Start, Silverstone, 2020

Is Sprint Qualifying here to stay? 15 questions answered on F1’s new Saturday races

2021 British Grand Prix

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Five months since RaceFans broke news of plans for F1’s new Sprint Qualifying, we’re about to discover whether the new format will be a success.

Adding Sprint Qualifying races to three rounds of the championship, starting with the British Grand Prix, has meant a heavy rewrite of F1’s rules, which was finally published yesterday. It’s added another eight pages to the Sporting Regulations, which now stand at a whopping 99 pages.

RaceFans readers have expressed strong views about the change and inundated the comments section and our social media accounts with questions about the change. Here are answers to 15 of your most pressing questions, from how it will work to whether it’s here to stay.

What’s it called?

There’s two answers to that question. Speaking at the Austrian Grand Prix FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi explained: “It’s not a sprint race, it’s ‘Sprint Qualifying’.”

However, he also added: “The official public brand name is ‘Sprint’.”

But isn’t it actually a race?

George Russell, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2021
When is a race not a race? When it’s ‘Sprint Qualifying’
Officially, no. During a recent interview Formula 1 presenter Tom Clarkson advised George Russell: “can you not use the word ‘race’, please, we’ve been told not to use the word ‘race’.”

Russell is far from the only driver to utter the forbidden phrase ‘Sprint Qualifying race’ and it’s not hard to see why the name causes confusion. F1 seems to have a clearer idea what it isn’t than what it is. As Masi indicated, F1 is referred to as ‘Sprint Qualifying’ in the rule book and the literature for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, but on social media, official Formula 1 accounts have taken to calling it the ‘#F1Sprint’.

The rule book makes the similarities between Sprint Qualifying and the grand prix obvious. In the updated sporting regulations, 109 references to “the race” have been changed to include “Sprint Qualifying” as well. Essentially, the Sprint Qualifying rules are a copy-and-paste job of the race rules, with a few tweaks.

But whether a race stops being a race just because you call it a qualifying session is a debatable point, in much the same way F1’s euphemistically-titled ‘sliding scale of aerodynamic testing restrictions’ is, in reality, a performance handicap.

Why not call it a ‘race’?

This is partly to allow for easier distinction between Sprint Qualifying and the grand prix in the regulations. But Formula 1 is also anxious to ensure the new races do not detract from the importance of Sunday’s grand prix, a point its managing director Ross Brawn has described as “critical”.

To this end, F1 has stated categorically it will treat the outcomes of this weekend’s qualifying and Sprint Qualifying sessions differently. The fastest driver in qualifying will not be named the official pole-winner – a major break with tradition – the Sprint Qualifying winner will not be considered to have won a race and the top three will not be counted as having reached the podium.

How will it work?

The first Sprint Qualifying race will be 17 laps of Silverstone
On Friday drivers will have an hour of practice followed by a regular qualifying session, as is ordinarily held on Saturdays. This will set the starting grid for the Sprint Qualifying race.

The new race will be run to the minimum number of laps needed to cover 100 kilometres. In the case of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, that’s 17 laps. The maximum duration of the race is set at one hour, but if it runs without interruption it should easily take less than half an hour to complete. If the race is suspended, the one-hour limit will be increased to 90 minutes.

The results of the new Saturday race will set the starting grid for the grand prix. Drivers who are not classified (covering less than 90% of the distance) will start at the back of the grid based on how many laps they completed. Any who fail to start will be arranged based on their Friday qualifying positions – a system which is also likely to apply to two drivers who retire on the same lap.

The top three finishers will score points – three for first, two for second and one for third. As with the grand prix, if less than 75% of the race distance is completed, half-points will be awarded. However in the event two drivers end the season tied on points, and race results are used to determine a winner, their Sprint Qualifying placings will not be factored into the calculations.

What does this mean for F1’s points system?

F1 now has its 10th different points system since the world championship began at Silverstone 71 years ago. It’s the second change in three years.

While other rounds only award 26 points, a maximum of 29 will be available for a driver this weekend – one less than inaugural champion Giuseppe Farina’s score across the entire season. Teams can score a maximum of 49 instead of 44.

Will Sprint Qualifying penalties work the same as regular ones?

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Some penalties will only apply to the grand prix grid
Penalties for racing incidents will be handled as they are in grands prix. “Grid penalties, time penalties for driving infringements and so forth, those penalties will be applied,” Masi confirmed.

However if a driver exceeds the minimum number of power unit parts during the weekend or changes their gearbox before it has completed six consecutive events, that penalty will be applied to the grid for the grand prix, not Sprint Qualifying.

If a driver collects three reprimands and triggers an automatic 10-place grid penalty, that will also be applied to Sunday’s race instead of Saturday’s.

How will the tyre rules work for the Sprint Qualifying race?

No tyre strategy in qualifying – it’s softs all round
There are a few important differences, chiefly that drivers will not be required to start either the Sprint Qualifying race or the grand prix on the tyres they used in Q2. Furthermore, drivers may only use the Q3 tyres in all stages of qualifying.

There is no requirement to use more than one type of tyre in the Sprint Qualifying race – i.e., there is no mandatory pit stop – but that requirement remains in place for the grand prix.

Each driver will have one fewer set of tyres this weekend – 12 instead of the usual 13. They will have two fewer sets of softs (six), one more set of mediums (four) and two sets of hards as usual.

The tyre rules will otherwise work much as they do on regular race weekends. Drivers will still have to retain two mandatory sets for the race of a compound specified by Pirelli for the grand prix.

How else will it differ from a grand prix?

Aside from the changes outlined above, there will be a few other differences.

The session timings are generally later in the day, with Friday’s qualifying session set for a 6pm start in the hope of catching the evening television audience. The timings on teams’ personnel curfews have been revised accordingly.

Drivers’ ‘race’ gearboxes will have be fitted after first practice instead of second practice. There are also changes to the rules on what parts teams may and may not change for Sprint Qualifying and during any suspensions in those races. Significantly, teams may fit replacements parts of a different specification for Sprint Qualifying races provided they have been used in a qualifying or race previously – a dispensation which only applies to Sprint Qualifying weekends.

How has the format changed since it was first devised?

Esteban Ocon, Kimi Raikkonen, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021
A proposal to make DRS more powerful was dropped
In recent years Formula 1 tried repeatedly, without success, to persuade teams to accept starting the Sprint Qualifying race using reverse championship standings. It gave up on the idea after it was repeatedly blocked.

The possibility of allowing drivers to use DRS more freely, for example by extending the detection zone from one second to two, also failed to find favour. The DRS rules for the Sprint Qualifying race remain the same as they are for the grand prix.

An alternative early name for the format – ‘Super Qualifying’ – was also discussed and discarded.

Will there be a podium ceremony after Sprint Qualifying?

Wreaths, last seen in the eighties, will return
No. Drivers will be awarded their trophies in parc ferme.

In order to add some spectacle to the celebration, Formula 1 has announced it will award traditional winners’ wreaths to the drivers. These were last awarded to podium finishers at grands prix in the mid-eighties.

After the Sprint Qualifying race, the top three drivers will also take part in a victory lap of the circuit.

Will Sprint Qualifying produce more action than a typical race?

Report: Hamilton expects F1’s first Sprint race will be a procession
This point has divided drivers. Lewis Hamilton predicted the new race will be a procession while others are hopeful that the shorter distance will mean they can pus flat-out on their tyres throughout.

The fact drivers have free tyre choice for the race and do not need to make pit stops gives an extra opportunity for intrigue. Drivers who qualify lower than they may be able gamble on running softer tyres than their rivals, depending on how the rubber performs this weekend.

However what each driver does is fundamentally a question of risk versus reward. Only drivers in the top four places stand to gain or protect a point by making or defending a pass. That’s not a high incentive compared to the risk of being involved in an incident, dropping to the back of the field and having to start the grand prix at the back of the grid.

This seems an inevitable outcome of introducing a race which lasts one-third the distance of a grand prix but pays one-twelfth as many points to the winner. Increasing the points reward may well be mooted as a solution to that, but the risk of ‘diminishing’ the main event will inevitably grow if that happens.

How big a break with tradition is Sprint Qualifying?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Traditional qualifying won’t decide the pole winner this weekend
Huge. This will be the first time in 1,045 races that the starting grid for a grand prix has been set by anything other than a contest to see who can set the fastest lap time.

The drivers’ beloved trope ‘the points are scored on Sunday’ also won’t apply any more. They can now score points on Saturday and Sunday – another first for Formula 1.

This isn’t the only significant break with the past. The days of every round of the world championship awarding the same number of points are over. This was only previously done when it experimented with a double points season finale in 2014, which proved highly unpopular and was dropped immediately after its debut. Not a great omen.

Can I try Sprint Qualifying in the official F1 game?

No, there’s no Sprint Qualifying in F1 2021.

How will F1 decide whether to hold more Sprint Qualifying races?

Report: Brawn “nervous” but optimistic ahead of F1’s first Sprint race weekend
The Sprint Qualifying rules do not yet form part of the regulations for the 2022 F1 season.

According to Brawn, if it is to be used again in the future, it will not be introduced at every round. “We think it will be a more suitable format for some of the events, some of the races.”

However he indicated promoters are keen to have the format at their rounds and suggested up to half-a-dozen Sprint Qualifying races could take place next year.

The impetus to do so will be strong. Formula 1 clearly views Sprint Qualifying races as an income stream: It was announced in their first quarter earnings call to investors and a new sponsor, Crypto.com, has signed a reputed $100 million deal to brand the events. This year’s races are being called the 2021 Crypto.com F1 Sprint Series.

Charles Leclerc has said Formula 1 must be “objective” about the first trial runs of the format before deciding whether to continue with it. But the reason for the change is clearly more economic than sporting.

What do people think of Sprint Qualifying prior to its introduction?

Sprint Qualifying will create “special occasions” says Domenicali
Formula 1 has set the bar high for the new format. CEO Stefano Domenicali told RaceFans last month he believes the Sprint Qualifying races will “create the atmosphere of special occasions” at the three rounds of the championship where they will feature – Britain, Italy and a third event to be confirmed.

Brawn says the key strength of the format is it offers significant action on all three days of the race weekend. “I’m quite optimistic about it,” he said. “I think if you take the view of the whole weekend it’s got a lot going for it.”

However FIA president Jean Todt is not a fan. “I don’t think Formula 1 needs it,” he said last month. The FIA did not block the format’s introduction, but Todt was adamant the new event must not be described as a ‘race’.

“I have a part of responsibility not calling that a race,” he said. “For me, the race is on Sunday.”

The teams have largely echoed the PR line that it is worth experimenting with the change – at least, since they were given assurances they would receive additional income to cover the costs of any damage.

Several drivers expressed doubts about the format when it was first announced. Sebastian Vettel said the Sprint Qualifying plan “makes no sense” and is sceptical of the reasons given for its introduction. Sergio Perez warned changes to the race weekend format could prove “risky”.

FIA president Todt isn’t a fan of the new format
However following a pre-season meeting with Domenicali, the drivers have largely toed the line on the necessity of experimenting with the race format.

“F1 is willing to try the sprint race, try to see if it can make it more entertaining for the people back at home watching on TV or coming to the track,” said Pierre Gasly. “I think it will be interesting. We’ll try it on some occasions and see how it is.”

Some have raised specific concerns. AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda pointed out it will drastically reduce the amount of practice time he has before the first competitive session, which will put him at a greater disadvantage on unfamiliar tracks.

At the time of writing, a poll of RaceFans readers found 18% agreed Sprint Qualifying will “improve the 2021 championship”, while 72% disagreed. We won’t have to wait much longer to find out whether it really is the change for the better F1 is convinced it is.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 73 comments on “Is Sprint Qualifying here to stay? 15 questions answered on F1’s new Saturday races”

    1. These are very good questions. They should have some good answers. We will know more quite soon.

      An answer overall is, this will be a debacle. It should stop. Please stop.

      Over many years there have been really good changes. Good changes have helped F1. (Qualification in the current set format is a great one.)

      Sprint Qualifying should end immediately. (If I am wrong, I could admit that. What a surprise that would be this time.)

      1. It’s a bit like point for fastest leap which is for the worst of the top (having free pit stop).
        This is a chance for drivers out of position to recover at a cheap cost, and unfortunately also being back a super qualifier to his “natural” spot. Not enough to fight your way up on Saturday, they’ll de to battle it out with faster cars behind on track too for half an hour to keep the honor to start there…

      2. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
        15th July 2021, 2:17

        I agree, think the only way it could be good is if it offered teams an extra strategic choice for the race to replace refueling, ie maybe if you pit during the sprint the tire restriction is lifted, or you start on the tires you finish the sprint on. I think this is absolutely the wrong direction, teams should be given as much strategic freedom as possible (access to all compounds, refueling) but if it has to be bureaucratic it should embrace it

    2. I’m still not sure if I like the idea or not, but I do know avid F1 fans, especially those like myself who have been following for decades are highly resistant to change. For every major change in the rules, the format or any other adjustment, we certainly do have a habit of finding all the faults, no matter how minor.

      I think time will tell on this one. I’m going into it with an open mind and I hope my fellow fans will give this format a proper try before decrying it.

      1. @mouse_nightshirt I 100% agree with you here. F1 fans, including myself, are very hesitant to change. Halo? Looks awful. New logo? Looks awful. Theme song that has since become synonymous with the sport? Unnecessary. Significant changes to improve the racing? Too slow and all the cars will look the same.

        I’m willing to give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. It wouldn’t be the first or last time that happens.

        1. Fully agree on both of your comments. Though my main concern is that, if Spring Qualifying isn’t deemed a success in terms of creating more excitement, it still gets pushed through for economic reasons rather than sporting ones.

      2. @Mouse_Nightshirt apologies meant to reply but accidentally tapped first on ‘Report Comment’ which is too easy to do and there is no confirmation dialogue atm

        Anyways, happy to read there’s people having an open mind and willing to give it a try. Not just in this sport and all other areas of life it’s human nature to push back against change but people don’t realise that F1 is only a 70some year old sport and keeps evolving.

        I honestly get the agents against sprint racing and my natural instinct is to push back too, but with the same mentality we should have sticked to horse racing. Or better yet, why bother those fancy horses, most people have two legs and can walk.

        My ego always feels threatened when ‘the old ways’ are being changed but I feel much the same. Let’s gives this a try and how it works!

      3. @mouse_nightshirt I can’t speak for everyone obviously but i’m not against this idea of sprint qualifying (Races) simply because I dislike change, I’m against the idea because I see far more negatives than I do positives & just genuinely don’t like the format of setting the grid based off a race.

        Whenever something is changed I never simply hate it because it’s change, I always look at why it’s been changed, Look for the positives/negatives & how it will likely effect everything. Yes at times I do also put some of my own feelings into liking/disliking something but I will never simply hate something just because it’s change.

        I was never against adding electrical/hybrid elements to the engine back when KERS was introduced, I was never against the switch to the current engine formula, I was never against the Halo, I was actually in favour of introducing the single lap qualifying format in 2003 (Before deciding I didn’t like it once I saw it in action) & was also in favour of introducing the current knock-out qualifying in 2006, I agreed with the banning of refueling as well as the aero changes introduced back to 2009 & the change in 2017 & I’m not against the cost cap (Although do dislike it’s implementation).

        Thinking back over the 30+ years’ i’ve been an F1 fan I think i’ve not minded or been in favour of more of the many changes than i’ve been against.

        1. @stefmeister
          Oh absolutely, I’ve massively generalised here. I’ve just seen so many knee-jerk responses over the years which has led to my current view. I am entirely open to the notion that many folk don’t think like that, it’s only my mere opinion that it is the majority, however slight, that do.

        2. @stefmeister The reason at least why I’m going in with an open mind is that I want to actually see it in action before I go looking for positives and negatives, and can then make a decision by weighing them up after actually watching a few, a bit like with you and single lap quali in 2003.

          On a different note, how do you think the cost cap could be implemented better? I’m not 100% sure on how it works but I’m just curious to see what you would change about it?

          1. @randommallard With the cost cap I just don’t really like how they are introducing the spending cap while also making the design/development of the cars more restrictive than ever as well as introducing regulations which allow them to ban things they don’t like & close off those development paths as soon as they come up.

            I’d have preferred a cost cap more along the lines of what Max Mosley used to talk about which was a spending cap with a bit more freedom in the regulations to allow teams to innovate with clever designs/engineering within whatever the cap was set at.

      4. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
        15th July 2021, 2:18

        I’m not the first to say this but f1 really needs to take a long look at how nascar screwed itself

    3. Well summed up. Just a small point, though. The days of every race providing the same number of points ended when they decided to award a point for fastest lap, but only if that fastest lap is achieved by a top ten runner. So there was already the chance that not every race would issue the same number of points.

      Other than that, just speaking for myself, and of course ahead of actually seeing how this all plays out, and understanding there may be tweaks to it, I don’t feel anything negative about a break from tradition like it is a dire thing personally. That’s just me. We still get to see flying lap qualifying on Friday. And it still means something.

      This is a trial after all, and while I know there is a tidal wave of thinking that the continuation of this is written in stone, for now I’m looking at it as a trial and the best way to judge what it will be like. I’m really not concerned about one weekend being worth more than another, as all races will still carry hugely necessary points that all drivers will be striving to maximize no matter what. It is not like they will try any harder or less hard depending on a few extra points on offer here and there.

      I do think if this carries over to next year the sprint qualifying will be even more exciting than whatever this weekend’s event shows, with cars far less likely to be stuck in dirty air next year onwards.

      1. The days of every race providing the same number of points ended when they decided to award a point for fastest lap, but only if that fastest lap is achieved by a top ten runner. So there was already the chance that not every race would issue the same number of points.

        I think it’s better worded as “the same number of points are available to be awarded at each race”. In that case, arguments over the fastest lap point and 75% running drop off, and only the double points finale and these sprint trials count.

        1. At each event, not race…

      2. @robbie I wont say I’m totally against it but I definitely am one of those that sees it as being set in stone.

        The amount of effort being made to “sell” the idea, the fact that a sponsor has been secured, and the amount of thought/planning for next year suggests that there would have to be extremely compelling reasons to not continue.

        I’m prepared to see how this plays out and look forward to our continuing dialog as to whether this is indeed a limited trial or a start of a much more extensive change driven by marketing gurus.

        I’m still annoyed I won’t be able to watch it live because of their stupid time changes but I’m still interested to see how it plays out.

      3. @robbie

        I do think if this carries over to next year the sprint qualifying will be even more exciting than whatever this weekend’s event shows, with cars far less likely to be stuck in dirty air next year onwards.

        But wouldn’t that make the main race less entertaining? If all cars are aligned on the grid according to their race pace as a result of the sprint qualifying?

        1. @matthijs It’s just that as we currently know, there are cars/drivers who do better or are set up to do better on a single lap, vs race pace and then of course the opposite, where some are better over a race than over a single lap. I think much remains to be seen about the next gen of cars and how they race, but I believe, and I believe the intention is, that it will be more of a driver vs driver series since cars won’t be nearly so negatively affected in dirty air. So I envision that on any given day we are going to see drivers shine based on how they particularly feel on that set of tires during that stint at that track on that day, but now they won’t be encumbered in dirty air to do much with it. It’s really going to come down to the uniqueness of the day and all the possibilities any given day can bring.

          So to say ‘if all cars are aligned on the grid according to their race pace’ is to me vague. What will their actual race pace be when it is no longer a sprint format on low fuel and tires of their choice but rather on high fuel on their race-start tires as they play out the day for the long term of a full race distance.

          Sure one possibility is that after qualifying on Friday the order is fairly expected, then for the Sprint Qualifying that order doesn’t change much, and then we see as usual on Sunday who has the better tire wear, the better strategy etc. And I just think with the new cars next year we are going to see more variance and drivers will be unencumbered in dirty air to show they are having a better day or stint or what have you.

    4. How big a break with tradition is Sprint Qualifying?
      Huge. This will be the first time in 1,045 races that the starting grid for a grand prix has been set by anything other than a contest to see who can set the fastest lap time.

      It’s not that novel or hyperbole ‘huge’.
      We’ve had cumulative 2-lap qualifying on separate days, and this just increases it to 17-laps.
      But rather than spreading it over 2 days they run the laps one after the other.

      The bit that is unfair though is that the Quali Sprint P1 sitter runs a shorter first lap than P2, and the same for P2 vs P3. But maybe the cumulative tow is offsetting that.

      1. Seems like a weird concern, doesn’t that happen at every race?

    5. A sprint qualifying race is the most literal name as the session is qualifying by setting a starting grid but in race form + short in distance versus an actual race.
      Anyway, I wouldn’t mind if this format became more standard going forward. I’d switch QLF, and the latter practice around, though, i.e., QLF earlier on Saturday and Friday reserved for both FPs. I’d also hand out points for at least top five in 5-4-3-2-1 form, if not top six (6-5-4-3-2-1) or even top eight (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1).
      Monza’s sprint race will most definitely last less than 30 min without any neutralization, even less than 20, I reckon. Silverstone’s average lap speed is also relatively high, so less than 30 at least.
      On timings, Probably track attendance contributes to the Friday QLF starting time as people have more time getting on track than if the session took place in the afternoon.
      Q3 tyres, I think should be the soft or softest compound (C3) available.

    6. To join the pedantic train (severe apologies, I’m just that sort of person), surely you could *technically* claim that races red flagged and not restarted before 75% distance had been reached didn’t award the same number of points to other weekends as only half-points were awarded. Also, I don’t know if this has ever been used, but I believe that if Quali is rained out on both Saturday afternoon and the replacement slot on Sunday morning, the times from the last practice session that ran (i.e. FP3, but if that was cancelled FP2 etc.) are used instead. As I say I don’t know if this has ever been used (if someone knows please tell me, I like these little statistical quirks), but if so that could be seen as a break from the traditional ‘contest to see who can set the fastest lap’.

      Sorry for being annoying. On a more serious note, @keithcollantine are there any significant changes to the predictions championship this weekend for Sprint Qualifying. I seem to remember them being outlined a while back but it may be worth reminding people, either in a round-up or in the predictions article for this weekend.

      1. Tommy Scragend
        15th July 2021, 10:31

        To join the pedantic train (severe apologies, I’m just that sort of person), surely you could *technically* claim that races red flagged and not restarted before 75% distance had been reached didn’t award the same number of points to other weekends as only half-points were awarded.

        But at the beginning of the event, there were the same number of points available to be awarded at that event as there would have been at every other event that season. It was only circumstances in the race that led to half points being awarded.

        The difference here is that the maximum number of available points at the start of an event which features a Sprint Qualifying not-race, is more than at the start of one that doesn’t.

    7. I really hope this is a success, because otherwise it will be used forever and a day to block any other significant changes being made to qually. So many in this sport object to change on principal, and this would give them ammunition.

      That being said, I’m not optimistic. It may produce a little action further down the field, where the risk of starting from the back of the grid is less important. However, up front I can’t see there being more action than a typical race day, and I think predictions of a procession are likely to be accurate.

      1. Yes, I was thinking for example if they decided to use it for monaco, cause I think we all agree it’s too hard to overtake as it is there, but basically only those who have nothing to lose would overtake people, a bit like verstappen who was recovering from the back with the best car in 2018, and having nothing to lose is the definition of those who start towards the back anyway, for people fighting for the “podium” the risk of starting last is huge, so it’d probably end up like a regular monaco gp, at least in the highest positions.

    8. This will set the starting grid for the Sprint Qualifying race.

      No!!! Don’t call it a race! It’s Sprint Qualifying… or #Sprint… or in the words of Crofty (probably) ThEmOsTeXcItInGtHiNgEvEr!!!!1111

    9. It’s really sad how complicated this is for so little reward. I’ll have to explain to my friends all about it during the weekend. They are already quite confused on normal GPs…

      1. Understand. Now I have to answer the most difficult question: Why does F1 discriminate against Fridays?! They now award points on Saturday and Sunday, but not Friday.

        This just reeks of Elitist Dayism. In fact why don’t they offer points for Thursday – press scrums can be competitive too.

    10. I am really looking forward seeing the cars go flat out for 30 minutes. It should give us an idea of pure racing without the heavy fuel load, tyre management, and pitstop tactics. Bring it on, I would say.

      Reply moderated
    11. I approve of wreaths, and I’m looking forward to some late-afternoon entertainment on both Friday and Saturday (especially as this race is on free TV in Britain). Should be better than boring old free practice.
      I’m expecting grid penalties for Gasly and Russell for saying “sprint race.”

    12. If they are so desperate for Fridays to matter, they could just adopt a modified version of the MotoGP solution. The top 8 from FP2 automatically advance to Q3, and the remaining two drivers are still determined by Q1 and Q2 as usual. An additional side benefit would be less traffic/queuing in Q1 and Q2.

    13. Funny how you were @keithcollantine so clear that F1 bods don’t want to call it a race, yet you call it a race in almost every sentence thereafter. Love it. :)

      1. Ahah, hadn’t noticed, that’s fun indeed.

    14. I hope Crypto.com doesn’t completely drag F1 down with it when it goes under.

    15. Does anyone know when Parc Ferme starts? Before Qualifying or Sprint Qualifying? If it’s before “The Sprint”, does that mean teams can have a pure quali setup on friday and race setup for the races? Otherwise FP2 becomes kind of pointless imo.

      1. @andrewsf1 Last I saw was that parc-ferme will start before qualifying on Friday.

        One of the concerns that I have seen some teams raise is that we may see less running in Saturday practice due to them not been able to make any significant setup changes as well as them not wanting to put additional wear on things like the legality plank under the car which they usually change going into qualifying & which aren’t designed to do as much running as they will now have to do.

      2. @andrewsf1 that seems to still be the unanswered question and it’s seriously annoying me so I can’t imagine how the teams feel.

        Is it something kept secret to give the Sky team something to shout about?

        I have to laugh that there’s more effort being put into making sure that it’s not referred to as a race (which it is) than providing real detail.

        1. @andrewsf1 @stefmeister and @dbradock

          My understanding from this article and the regulations is that Parc Ferme comes into effect at the start of Friday Quali, but is looser than normal Parc Ferme conditions in that they can replace parts with one’s of different specification after Quali, as long as they have been used in a Quali session or race beforehand this season (I.e. from Bahrain to Austria). What the regulations don’t make clear is whether or not you need the technical delegate’s permission to do this or not.

          The other small change is that there are certain parts that can be replaced with identical spec parts as the teams wish. These are things like brake ducts, spark plugs etc that I believe are homolagated anyway so you couldn’t change for a different specification even without Sprint Qualifying.

    16. I think that them doing everything they can to not call it a race laughable.

      It’s a race, We all know it’s a race & anyone with half a brain can see it’s a race. It will have a grid, A start, 17 laps of cars racing, A chequered flag, a finishing order & indeed a winner. It’s a race so just call it a race.

      The Liberty Media, NASCAR-ification, Crypto.com Gimmick sprint (It isn’t qualifying) race is what it should be called.

      1. @roger-ayles I can understand your point, but what in your list isn’t really applicable to Quali? It definitely doesn’t have a grid, but beyond that, you could say quali has all of the others (I think it’s a fair argument to call the person P1 in quali a winner. They win pole position. I know plenty of casual fans who make that statement.)

        And in terms of racing, it exposes the one major flaw with the current quali system, and that is the running order. We get overtakes for on-track position all the time. It might not be the purest form of racing, but there are many who may still call it racing. Especially the kind of flat out finish to Q2 we got at Russia last year. Most exciting part of the whole weekend that was. Or the kind of anti-racing racing fiasco we get at Monza in Q3 sometimes.

        (And please stop calling it a gimmick. It is extra racing that is pretty much still fair (although I probably have a looser definition of a gimmick myself. I only really think something is bad enough to be a gimmick if it is unfair) Reverse grids are a gimmick imo, but not this. One day there may be a good idea that is introduced that was criticised as a gimmick but actually turned out to be good. Whether that is Sprint Qualifying or not, it would give Liberty a hand up on you (collective group of fans, not just Roger), because they could say ‘look what happened last we introduced a so-called gimmick’.)

      2. The Liberty Media, NASCAR-ification, Crypto.com Gimmick sprint (It isn’t qualifying) race is what it should be called.

        Or something like: “Cryptocurrency Isn’t Our Serious Interest Yet Failure Sprint Not Really Qualifying powered by Liberty Media aka Traitors”

    17. When do the cars go into parc ferme? Do they stay in park ferme for the whole weekend?

      Reply moderated
    18. I have not changed in my opinion that qualifying is the one hour of guaranteed entertainment in an F1 weekend.
      It takes a special kind of fool to try to fix that which is not broken.

      1. The qualifying structure is the best it has ever been in 70 years. Liberty aren’t changing it because they want to improve things for the fans or the fairness of competition. They are changing it because they are going for a novel money generating scheme. They are worse than fools.

        1. It is the American Way (TM). Dollar dollar bill y’all.

    19. So the name is interesting the 2021 Crypto.com F1 Sprint Series.

      . It does go a little way in separating it from the GP. It also leaves wriggle room to expand if the races prove successful. How they do that could be even more controversial.

    20. It’s here to stay alright. Regardless of how poor this weekend’s spectacle will be.

      Liberty have made their position quite clear.

      1. If teams hate it and complain enough, they will probably drop it, after all no teams = no races.

        1. @esploratore1 The teams have already been bought and paid for, that is why they’ve all mysteriously fallen into line. There is zero possibility of any serious objection coming from the teams, which would prevent sprint races from returning next season.

    21. So…. You are qualifying on Friday for a qualifying on Saturday, because it is not a race. It is a qualifying for the Race on Sunday. Now it makes complete sense. What rubbish will they come up with next.

    22. I like how this article mentions that F1 doesn’t want it called a race, but then refers to it in a race throughout because it is clearly a race.

      It has been impossible for me to be open minded about the sprint race but I am excited to see what happens on Saturday. The format should push the drivers who typically do well in qualifying further back on the grid for the feature race (or is it #F1race ?) which will probably make it less interesting, or push drivers who should be up front to the very back if they DNF. I can’t see either making the feature race more interesting other than seeing if someone can make their way back to the front after they start in the back from a DNF in the non-race sprint qualifying race (#F1Sprint).

      It could be worse: reverse grids. F2 is hard to watch this year. They should just throw dice to decide the grid order.

      1. Reverse grids would have totally justified having a sprint race at all – much more so than this pathetic and useless compromise that they’ve currently come to.
        F2 is perfectly easy to watch. If you can’t figure it out, there’s either something wrong with your comprehension or you simply aren’t interested.

        1. The reverse grids are randomizing the results. The drivers and teams with the fastest pace have can have an uphill battle

          1. It’s not randomising the results – it’s putting the cars in a different starting order. That’s all.
            The results could still end up in exactly the same order as they do now.

            Where reverse grids give the fastest teams the ‘biggest’ challenge, the current system gives them the smallest and easiest one – the advantages of being in front of the pack, in clean air, and with the most car performance.

            Maybe stop focusing so much on the results, and focus more on how those results come about. You know – the actual racing..? Predictable processions are dull.

    23. One aspect of this I dislike as somebody who cares about stats & records is that the pole winner will be the winner of the sprint rather than the driver who qualifies on pole after the actual qualifying session.

      And the reason I dislike that is that in the record/stat books it’s going to have the winners of the sprints alongside those mega qualifying laps that we look back at & just think ‘wow’. As an Autosport plus article put it a few days ago, It’s warping the record books & essentially making the pole stat from sprint weekends less meaningful than on ‘normal’ weekends.

      Does ‘winning’ pole in a sprint really deserve to be alongside or looked at on the same level as say that insane lap that saw Senna qualifying on pole by 1.4 seconds at Monaco in 1988?

      1. @stefmeister Pole position has been devalued ever since they introduced race-fuel qualifying in 2003, followed by the Q2/Q3 tyre rules when refuelling was banned.

        More than a few refuelling-era pole positions were won by low-fuel glory runs (e.g. Alonso in Hungary 2009, Button in Australia 2006, and – most cynically of all – Trulli at Indianapolis 2005) rather than being a genuine reflection of all-out pace.

      2. Yes, it’s a good objection, they should’ve made another stat for it like vettel said, but indeed a lot of stats have been devalued over time: wins, when nowadays drivers can do 300 races, while in the 1950s only 50s, number of poles, most wins per season, points etc.

    24. I can’t say I’m brimming with optimism. The sprint will almost certainly be a procession for most of the field, there will be no daring passes if all that’s at stake is one measly grid spot, or one measly point, when there is so much to lose from spinning off. The only passing we’ll see will be nailed-on risk-free DRS passes.

      What it will do is spoil any possible surprises in actual qualifying, giving out-of-position drivers the opportunity to DRS their way back to their ‘normal’ grid spot before the Grand Prix, meeting zero resistance for the reasons above.

      Despite this, viewing figures will be much bigger than for normal qualifying, mostly due to the novelty, and it will be declared a roaring success.

      1. This is a good objection, it’s not fair to drivers like norris.

    25. The modern world is “infected & obsessed” with Genetic modification, DNA altering technology.
      GMO food. Modified rNA jabs. ETC ETC ETC.
      NOW? Messing with F1 DNA?
      Just wrong. Very wrong.

    26. If parc ferme conditions are in place from Friday, before qualifying, then what is the point of Saturday’s 2nd practice? If you can’t change anything on the car then there is not much point.

      Mark Hughes characterised this best: stage racing, where sprint qualifying is Stage 1, followed by Stage 2 on Sunday.

    27. I’m highly sceptical but still somewhat open-minded about this format. Let’s test it and then (hopefully) throw it in the bin along with the horrible 2016 qualifying thing.

      One positive side is the change in the Q2 tyre rules – finally!

    28. After stating this in the 3rd section of the article:

      Russell is far from the only driver to utter the forbidden phrase ‘Sprint Qualifying race’

      , you go on to use the forbidden phrase 12 times in the article and once in the image.

      Very cheeky Keith :)

    29. Sprint Qualifying will fail.

      1. It’s got a sponsor, so it’s already a commercial success.
        That’s the only kind of success that matters to F1 management.

        1. A commercial success, but the reception from fans…wait for it.

        2. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care if you’re defending Sprint Qualifying like this. I can say negative reactions about Sprint Qualifying as much as I will. You’ll never win against me.

    30. I have a feeling this will have a short life. Having only 1 hour of free practise before parc ferme can’t be a good idea

      1. It’s going to hurt struggling midfield teams like alpine, Sauber, Williams, and Aston Martin for sure, as well as the drivers struggling with their new cars

    31. I’m not against changes to the racing weekend, it’s just sprint qualifying races seems so badly thought through.

      Will we ever see surprise pole sitters like Charles Leclerc with this? He may chance a great lap on Friday, but a slower race pace means pole for Sunday is basically a guarantee for the fastest car (barring crashes, which seems a bad thing to wish for). Combined with DRS I see no reason that a car with a faster race pace wouldn’t just saunter through the field, we already see this with Mercs or Redbulls qualifying out of place, the difference now is they’ll be back in position by Saturday night, so there’s one less story for the Sunday race.

      It seems specifically designed to neuter the actual race on Sunday as you have 1/3 of a race on Saturday for the cars to organise themselves from one lap pace order into actual racing pace order, then on Sunday they can drive off in formation with the gaps between each driver just increasing lap after lap.

      The points also seems stupid, why only the top 3? It seems specifically designed to make the championship get tied up quicker with less chance of the likes of McLaren or Ferrari making inroads into Merc/Redbull’s lead. Over a 21 race season, sprint quali would award a maximum of an extra 63 points to the fastest driver, literally more than 2 race wins. We’ve seen dominent cars wrap up the championship by mid season, I thought this was seen as bad thing, seems like a shot in the foot to help them do it even earlier.

      The whole point of qualifying was it organised the cars using a slightly different criteria than the actual race. It meant some teams could decide to maximise their grid position and try and hang on, or other cars (like Ferrari in Austria) could choose to take a grid position hit, but attempt to recover the lost ground by having a car purely set up for the race.

      Sprint qualifying basically negates all of the strategy teams have in setting up their car, and seems deigned to reward the top teams with extra points giving more chances for them to run away with the championship and tie it up several races before the end.

      Reply moderated
      1. Yes, that can potentially be horrible, hopefully if it really is they’ll drop it. They called it a trial.

    32. No need to flame me, I know this is a silly comment, but I would like the extra points awarded way down the pack, for 8th, 9th and 10th. Could make 11th thru, say 14th, try even harder and take more risks.

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