F1 “wrong” to call Sprint Qualifying winner the pole position holder – Vettel

2021 British Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel doesn’t agree with Formula 1’s decision to name the winner of its new Sprint Qualifying race as the official holder of pole position for the race weekend.

Formula 1 is holding its first Sprint Qualifying event this weekend. A regular qualifying session will be held on Friday to decide the starting grid for Saturday’s race, but Formula 1 has stated the driver who leads the field will not be considered the pole position winner. Instead the driver who wins the Sprint Qualifying race, which sets the grid for the grand prix, will be named as the pole winner.

Vettel, who has started from pole position 57 times in his career, is unimpressed with the decision. “I think that’s wrong,” he said. “Pole is the fastest lap time achieved or the fastest lap time in qualifying. So it gets all a bit confusing.”

The Sprint Qualifying format is being used at three rounds of this year’s championship, starting with this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

“Obviously it depends,” Vettel continued, “if this is a one-off then it doesn’t do much harm, but if we end up having 10 sprint races next year or in the future than I think it’s just a bit weird. Pole position should go to the guy who goes fastest in one lap.”

He believes F1 should have come up with a different name for the winner of its new Saturday race.

“It’s a new discipline, they didn’t have it 50 years ago and now we have it,” he said. “So then you just add a new column to the statistics.”

Vettel was critical of the Sprint Qualifying proposal before its introduction was confirmed. Now it is going ahead, he is prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.

“It will be interesting to see [whether] people will like it or not,” he said. “I think the main event always has to be Sunday otherwise there’s no point hanging around until Sunday we can just go home or finish the weekend Saturday night. We’ll see how it goes, I think it’s the first time so let’s give it a go.”

“I’m fairly open because it is what it is,” he added. “It won’t change no matter what we say. We’ll se, maybe it’s really good. I think generally it’s fine to be open about it.”

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Keith Collantine
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54 comments on “F1 “wrong” to call Sprint Qualifying winner the pole position holder – Vettel”

  1. Seb is right, the Qualy Race is a very bad idea.

    I’m open to a Saturday Race but as many of us suggested months ago that, it would be better to create a new champisonship with differente rules similar to the FA cup in football.

    A Saturday Sprint Championship sponsored by Cripto.com with reverse grids, no pit-stops, without parc fermé to try crazy set ups and a wreath for the winner is an interesting idea. (And more money for F1 and teams)

    A 2 hour race in two chapters of 30 and 90 minutes between Saturday and Sunday is ridiculous.

    1. @doctorlovesexy He’s not saying it is a ‘very bad idea,’ and I think your idea is far more gimmicky and far worse and is not the point towards experimenting for a potential more exciting way to qualify for the race.

      1. I have an idea. I don’t know if its stupid. Sprint race winners will be handed points just like now but the grid for sunday is set based on the fastest lap time in sprint.

        1. @Yashas +1
          Came here to suggest this.

  2. Poor Seb! “Pole is the fastest lap time achieved or the fastest lap time in qualifying. So it gets all a bit confusing.” From what he says here, he’s already more than a bit confused already. Let’s just hope he doesn’t start the sprint going backwards…

    1. He is right. In case of no qualifying (weather or other duress) the fastest time in the last practice count for grid placement.

    2. Seb is correct. It should be a new statistic, not adding to polesitter stats

    3. Vettel is correct. He is not the one who is confused here.

    4. He is a bit confused.

      There’s no point hanging around until Sunday we can just go home or finish the weekend Saturday night

      meaning we should leave after the sprint qualifying, the one he does not want to care about, when the “set your fastest time quali” is on fridays. Great idea f1. F1 has an 1 hour slot saturday and that is why we have this.
      In the future they’ll try to put both races on sunday, by shortening the real race into two 45 minute halves, with a 15 min halftime between the 2. Not like f1 does not have referees already.

    5. Seb is right. It should be a new statistic. This is idiotic.

  3. Pole position is the first starting position and has nothing to do with how someone starts there. It is from horse racing where the 1st position is on the inside rail, next to the pole.
    In F1 there are instances when the fastest qualifier has a grid place penalty so they don’t start on the pole.
    F1 is correct that the sprint winner has won the pole position if they start the race in the 1st position.

    1. Coventry Climax
      16th July 2021, 0:52

      Yes, and there’s more terms that come from horse racing, like ‘paddock’. But that’s because we were already horse racing before we even had cars. It’s irrelevant where the terms comes from, it’s all about what they mean in the sport.
      In F1, qualifying was done to find out which car/driver combination was fastest, so that combination could start at the front, to avoid accidents actually.
      Over the years, we’ve had several qualifying formats, not all of them successful. If they wanted to change the format again, fine, but just say so please, instead of come up with untrue reasons, silly names for it and, worst of all, points.

      1. And Italian teams use the word Scuderia which means Stable.

  4. Please remember to not use the term ‘Qualifying Race’ on Saturday. Liberty could have us disqualified.

    It’s Sprint Qualifying – there is no race, just 17 laps of sprinting in a pack of cars.

    Thank you for your compliance.


    1. Liberty could have us disqualified.

      Brilliant mockery.

    2. @jimmi-cynic lol, but if you do get disqualified, you won’t know until at least 5 hours after the race, err qualifying :)

      1. +2 (Fan) Penalty Points, @eurobrun.

    3. Let’s all stay safe, protect each other and only discuss this event on a dedicated site called SprintFans.

  5. Totally 100% completely agree:

    “It’s a new discipline, they didn’t have it 50 years ago and now we have it,” he said. “So then you just add a new column to the statistics.”

  6. I agree with him, For me the pole winner should be the person who qualifies on pole in terms of one lap pace.

    The Sprint is a race (Regardless of them trying to act like it isn’t) & will have a pole sitter based off qualifying & for me that should be who goes into the record/stat books as having earned the pole position.

    Consider this. Whoever wins the sprint & starts the GP from pole this weekend will be in the record/stat book alongside all those mega qualifying laps from the past & I just don’t think they are anywhere near been the same thing.

    1. @stefmeister And likewise, whoever sets the fastest lap on Fridays before a sprint qualifying race will have their laps erased from history. Seb Vettel’s solution is elegantly simple and obvious. Just have a new column. There’s no reason to downgrade fastest over one lap because it happens on a Friday rather than a Saturday.

    2. Yeah, they’ll have achieved something harder.

  7. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    15th July 2021, 21:20

    Totally agree. Pole is set on Friday during the quali session. That should be pole for the weekend. End of!

    1. So let’s imagine a situation where driver A finishes finishes Friday qualifying in P1 but then starts the race on Sunday in P5. How is that pole position?

      Pole should be whoever starts the race on Sunday in P1. Whether that’s decided by qualifying or a sprint race on Saturday.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        16th July 2021, 2:15

        @scbriml – But surely, whoever starts the sprint race in 1st is on pole as well.

        Article 37.8 of the sporting regulations talks specifically about the start procedure for the “Sprint Qualifying” session and says “all cars on the grid should begin the formation lap with the pole position driver leading.”

  8. If sprint qauli is used to determine who will start from pole on Sunday will this mean that cars will be set up for race pace as this will get you a better advantage during the whole event, starting in the top 5 with a race trim will be better than starting 1st with a quali setup, or is there a chance to change setup at some point outside of parc ferme?

  9. Pole position is first on the grid.

    If not, remind me how many pole positions Schumacher had?

    1. Pole position is first on the grid.

      True. As in first on the sprint race grid…

      1. @david-br For every single GP before this weekend, pole goes to the man who starts the GP in P1. A driver can win Friday qualifying and start the sprint race in P1, but might start the GP in P5. How is that pole?

        1. Hpw would 107% from the “pole” time work if pole is decided in a race. Uh, sprint i mean

          1. Tommy Scragend
            16th July 2021, 13:37

            Presumably the 107% would be worked out from Friday qualifying, and anyone not meeting it would not be allowed to start the sprint not-race. And logically from that, if you’re not in the sprint not-race, you don’t start the Grand Prix actual-race either.

            In reality, when was the last time a driver was not permitted to start because he didn’t make the 107%? Normally they are allowed to take the start thanks to “the stewards’ discretion”.

        2. @scbriml Well they’re both a pole position. One lap qualifying tests the fastest car/driver combination in terms of optimized raw speed. Sprint qualifying will test a whole series of factors that will be basically identical to the GP itself: racing skill, consistent speed, tyre management, car (and driver) reliability, but also with more extraneous factors, like being taken out by a competitor. The point is that the records for pole will cease to accurately reflect the skills involved in one lap qualifying (and car speed over one lap obviously). It will be the same records for different metrics.

          1. @david-br But it isn’t a race. It’s a qualifying sprint…
            Pole Position is first place on the race grid – it is not the fastest qualifier, from any qualifying session. It always has been this way.

            And the records haven’t been completely accurate to the way you interpret them since the inception of grid penalties.
            Equally, the stats for race results haven’t been entirely accurate to that interpretation either since post-race penalties were first used.
            Just deal with it.

          2. @david-br Simple question – which driver will get a pole position added to their F1 stats – Hamilton for finishing P1 in Friday’s qualifying, or the driver who finishes the sprint race in P1?

            Pole position is the driver who starts the GP in P1, regardless of how they got there.

  10. Keep quiet Sebastian. Pole is who qualifies to start the race in first place.

    Remember race fuel Qualifying? The fastest didn’t always win.

    1. @david-beau but the pole went to whoever had done the fastest lap.

  11. Especially confusing when the Friday session is still called qualifying…I wonder if we’ll lose the intensity of final qualy runs. For example, Max might stuff up his first run and end up 3rd but be confident that his straight line advantage will allow him to overtake to claim pole and so might not see the point in trying to go flat out for a second run and all the risks that entails. Time will tell!

    1. Tommy Scragend
      16th July 2021, 13:39

      Maybe they should rename Friday qualifying to “Sprint Qualifying Qualifying”. Just for, er, clarity ;-)

  12. This is a freaking joke.. follow the money..

  13. Working with Max would lead to a toxic work environment. Until Max leaves, Redbull isn’t anywhere you want to be.

  14. Yep, its just keep getting worse for Formula 1. The are no developments and too much restrictions. The whole thing is goofy and funky…

  15. This is self-inflicted garbage. People actually like to compare stats over the years, it’s part of the charm of F1. Now they come up with this mess because, well, Liberty media. At least Seb is still around to call out this bs.

    1. Arguably, the statistics are incomparable already.
      Points scored is obviously an incomparable metric.
      Pole position has been acquired via various methods, including single-lap attempts, race-fuel qualifying, accumulated lap time -if I remember correctly- and modified after grid penalties due to reasons nothing to do with one lap pace.
      Even championships have been won in different ways, with drivers having to drop points in the final standing.
      The only comparable metric at the moment is race wins and -maybe- fastest laps. But even there the comparison is influenced by the busier calendar.
      Come to think of it, this arguably does not show the same skill sets either, as cars in different eras had to be driven in completely different ways,

      There are many arguments against sprint qualifying. Protection of the statistic books is not one of them

  16. Who are the people who make these decisions. They seem to be unbelievably thick. I mean how could they mess that up so badly. Getting a pole position has always been a demonstration of pure 1 lap pace for the car and driver. How could they name the winner of the sprint race as the pole winner. The sprint race could easily be a complete mess and you could see completely random pole winners. It reduces the value of pole positions dramatically. I wonder if the FIA deliberately make a mess of every decision so as to make more stories for the media. Seems impossible that someone could actually be payed to make decisions this bad. Even Borris Johnson could do better.

  17. The best ever starting grid position session was at the British Grand Prix at Aintree in 1957. I was there!

    The article requires some proof reading . . . ‘regular’, surely it should be ‘normal’?

  18. Stephen Higgins
    16th July 2021, 10:55

    Does this also mean we will get two Fastest Laps ?? That’ll confuse the stattos even further …

  19. Can’t help but feel Liberty missed a trick here, why didn’t they just change ‘the sprint’ on Saturday into ‘qualifying 4’ then you would have a qualy pole sitter [the sprint winner] and we can all relax and enjoy a good clean race on Sunday…we might just be able to forget that a non race was run in order to set the grid for the race proper.

  20. I am going to not await the trial and state that this is probably the stupidest idea ever. Totally not interested in a race weekend. Sundays are more than enough. I have better things to do than spend other days of the weekend watching F1. Money driven initiatives to get more advertising space, thats all it is.

  21. My proposal. PQ for qualifying pole. PS for sprint results pole. Sprint results get starting grid positions that are odd numbers so P1, P3, P5. Qualifying results get the even positions P2, P4, P6. Drivers get the highest spot out of the 2. I am sure F1’s supercomputer can figure it out.

    1. So if a drive is P1 and P2 winning both they take P1 and then the P4 driver gets P2 and the rest of the even move up. And similarly the odds would move up until the positions are filled.

  22. Rightly or wrongly, it’s consistent with the way the rules have always been; the driver who starts at the front of the official grid is declared as the pole sitter in the record books. This may or may not be the fastest driver in qualifying. Monaco ‘12 is the perfect example of this.

    I’m surprised to see people claiming that this, in Nico Rosberg’s words, will cannibalise historic statistics. Unfortunately that ship sailed decades ago. Driver records are utterly meaningless in this day and age.

    The modern sport has triple the grands prix in a season than it did in its early seasons. A driver making his debut this season will take less than 3 years to match Fangio’s race starts tally of 51. You can’t possibly use the statistics from that era against any other era in F1. Just about the only comparable statistic is the number of titles, but even then modern young driver programs mean drivers start their careers in their late teens and early 20s, thus having considerably more attempts to win championships.

    The only way we can compare drivers from different eras is with fantastical scenarios in our heads. Statistics are just numbers, let’s not pretend they’ve ever had any more depth than that. Everyone thinks the best driver they ever saw was the one who won everything when they were kids, anyway!

  23. So, what happens if the man on pole on friday, gets pushed off track on saturday and ends up dead last in the sprint race? Start the sunday race in last position and lose points twice?

    1. Tommy Scragend
      16th July 2021, 13:42

      I guess that’s only the same thing as a driver being fastest in FP1, FP2 and FP3 but binning it on his first lap in Q1…

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