Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021

What worked and what failed in F1’s sprint qualifying experiment

2021 British Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s new sprint qualifying format brought new action to the race weekend but also created some confusion and inconsistency.

Where did the series make improvements, and what areas dope sit need to re-evaluate, after its first test of the format at Silverstone?

What worked

Free tyre choice in both races

Alonso made a superb start on soft tyres
The most exciting addition to the sprint qualifying race was the removal of the rule forcing drivers who reach Q3 to start on their used rubber from Q2. This added a new level of intrigue before the race began and allowed teams to pick their race strategies based on their qualifying positions.

Therefore we saw Mercedes gamble on starting Valtteri Bottas on a set of soft tyres, and Alpine doing the same with Fernando Alonso, who made up six places to fifth at the start.

Not only did it give us better racing, it’s self-evidently fairer to drivers than the normal system. This is a rules change which should be adopted for all other rounds of the championship.

Reduced practice before qualifying

While much of the hype around sprint qualifying concerned what would happen in the race itself, arguably the most significant change came through forcing teams to qualify after just one hour of practice instead of the usual three – or last year, four – hours.

The die looked cast ahead of Friday evening’s session, as Max Verstappen headed the only practice session by the thumping margin of seven-tenths of a second. But on a cooling track, hit by unexpected understeer, Red Bull lost their way, opening the door for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to take advantage.

There were other unexpected developments. Charles Leclerc capitalised on a sub-par performance from Sergio Perez to put his Ferrari on the second row and George Russell sent the home crowd into rapture by placing his Williams eighth on the grid.

Formula 1’s current qualifying format has served it well for 15 years and this weekend showed it would be foolish to get rid of it, as the series experiments with changes. Reducing the amount of practice teams had before it seemed to only increase the intrigue.

Action on all three days

Friday was a much livelier day than usual
One of the big selling points of the new format was that it ensured each day included a meaningful competitive session. This was clearly an improvement over the usual arrangement, giving an extra talking point of interest on Friday. This is something F1 has missed since its two-day qualifying format was replaced by a single day.

It did make for a slow start to proceedings on Friday, however, with no F1 action taking place until half past two in the afternoon. Lewis Hamilton used the opportunity to get some extra simulation work done at Mercedes.

What failed

Post-qualifying anti-climax

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021
The excitement of qualifying faded quickly
After that rip-roaring qualifying session the drivers said a few words to Formula 1 and the television cameras – and disappeared. No press conference, no chance for the media to ask them how their first experience of F1’s new format had gone.

The media don’t ordinarily get to interview drivers on Friday evenings after practice sessions. But if the idea of adding sprint qualifying sessions is to create engaging, competitive action throughout the weekend, then surely it follows the media needs the opportunity to cover it.

‘Don’t call it pole, don’t call it a race’

Sprint qualifying has an obvious nomenclature problem, and it’s two-fold. First, the new Saturday afternoon session is run as a 17-lap race, yet we are being instructed to call it a qualifying session. This is nonsense: a race is a race.

No wonder drivers and team members alike referred to the ‘sprint qualifying race’ or, more simply, the ‘sprint race’.

F1 needs more elegant solutions to its naming problems than dogmatically insisting it can call a race a qualifying session. If they can’t bear the thought of referring to sprint qualifying as a sprint race, why not other names like a ‘heat’ or ‘pre-final’?

Second, as the qualifying session no longer determines who starts from pole position, F1 was left with a statistics conundrum: what actually counts as pole position?

The format makes a mess of F1’s qualifying statistics
This is a question F1 could never answer entirely satisfactorily. The history books now are going to require some revising, and that is regrettable.

F1 chose to define the pole position winner as the driver who started the grand prix from pole position, and that is hard to argue against. Nonetheless, F1 should also acknowledge the fact a driver took pole position through a conventional session. The new title it conjured up – ‘speed king’ – was a weak piece of marketing fluff.

Insisting that the top driver in qualifying is not the pole winner wrecks decades of F1 history. Sebastian Vettel is quite right to call it “wrong”.

What’s needed here is two categories. The historic definition of pole position should also be kept, to ensure the records of Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and the rest remain comprehensible and relevant to modern fans. There’s no reason why F1 can’t do this while also adding a new classification of ‘sprint qualifying pole winner’.

Bonus points

Winning a one-third distance race earned Verstappen just three points
Formula 1 believes points are needed to encourage drivers to push in the sprint qualifying races. But it doesn’t want to diminish the importance of the grand prix by awarding too many points on a Saturday.

Its solution is to awards points, but not many of them. That sends the message that four-fifths of the field needn’t bother trying to race each other for position. Worse, it creates a situation where we now have some rounds of the championship which are worth more points than others.

Having a better starting position means a better chance of scoring points on Sunday. That should surely be the incentive to push flat-out in the sprint race. Giving just six points to the top three drivers is a classic example of a poor compromise, and isn’t worth adding yet more complexity to F1’s points system.

Pointless practice?

Practice sessions are not intended to be great entertainment. But the odd spectacle of watching drivers practice for an hour under parc fermé conditions, with little changes possible to their cars, was decidedly underwhelming.

It was no doubt appreciated by the rookies, who suffered from the reduction in practice running earlier in the weekend. But Hamilton seemed to sum it up when he came on the radio and asked whether it was really worth putting the extra mileage on his power unit.

Over to you

Was F1’s sprint qualifying format a success or a failure? Have your say in the comments.

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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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74 comments on “What worked and what failed in F1’s sprint qualifying experiment”

  1. The whole thing just felt a bit pointless to be honest. If there is one thing that doesn’t need to be fixed in F1, it’s qualifying.

    1. For me it deflated yesterday (but also bc. Friday evening is not a good time for F1 here at home), and today was a race that was the first bit of a race that has a restart tomorrow, ie.; also because after the start and first few laps it was quite static, maybe it’s too long (while being to short to be a real race); now teams will start Sunday knowing a lot more about how their cars work on fuel and with these tyres, so chance of surprises through strategy are potentially diminished. I hope the race tomorrow will be good. Say HAM re-takes lead at start, maybe then we’ll see how long it takes VER to get back there, would be some tension though it would nullify today’s start from him! Or maybe it will be a close race between them? Let’s hope for the latter I guess.

      1. ‘now teams will start Sunday knowing a lot more about how their cars work on fuel and with these tyres’

        i dont understand how this is even a valid criticism. on the normal race weekend this was the case anyway. FP2 is always about long runs

      2. @bosyber whilst this article might talk about the free tyre choice, I would contend that the choice is perhaps somewhat illusory and the way that this weekend is being run means there might be rather less variability than they think there will be – particularly since this change is really only applicable to those starting in the top 10 (as those in the lower half of the grid already had that free choice).

        Firstly, we have to bear in mind that the teams were given one less set of tyres for this weekend (12, instead of 13): however, the teams are still bound by the requirement to hand back a set number of those tyres to Pirelli after the practice sessions. The teams were also then bound by the requirement to use only the soft tyres during qualifying – but, since the soft tyre is evidently a fairly poor race tyre, they seem to be fairly happy with that decision.

        Coming into the race, therefore, there really seem to be two options – a shorter first stint on the mediums and then switching to the hard tyres, or starting on the hards and switching to the mediums later on. I expect that the majority will want to start on the medium tyres, given they’ll probably be slightly better off the line, with a handful of those lower down the grid opting for the hard and hoping that there might be a safety car that compresses the pack – to that end, I wouldn’t be surprised if Red Bull also put Perez on the hards.

        In terms of strategy, I think it doesn’t really change a lot – most drivers will probably have to use similar strategies because they won’t have the tyres to do something radically different, nor would it be worthwhile doing something radically different.

        Most of those outside the top 10 are probably going to run the same strategy that they would have done under the normal qualifying format. Those in the upper half of the top 10 probably will end up running similar strategies to what they’d have done normally too, except now they don’t have to do a qualifying lap on a set of medium tyres first.

        Effectively, the only drivers whom I see who really benefit from this are those in the lower half of the top 10, who can now bolt on a set of medium tyres and copy the strategies of those ahead and behind of them will use. It makes things better for them, but I think the impact will be rather more limited for the rest of the grid.

    2. Sam (@undercut677)
      17th July 2021, 18:44

      Considering the eventual burnout of the sun leading to the impending destruction of all mankind, isn’t everything just pointless?

      1. There are degrees of pointless and the sprint race is on the extreme edge of the pointless scale.

        1. I dread that @undercut677 may be correct, just sitting here waiting.
          For the most part, a seriously over-hyped pointless exercise. I even turned the TV off and went and got coffee. Then came back for the actual not-a-race event. The hound enjoyed the post NAR walk.

      2. Not pointless for the human species, since they have so many years they should be able to find another decent planet!

      3. You really think mankind will last enough that solar evolution will be a problem for us?

    3. Pointless and useless deacribe this perfectly.
      Tyre choice? Whoever failed to match where they expected to finish in Q had a spare red tyre and they used it to make up for a bad quali.

    4. Thiago SILVA
      18th July 2021, 0:10

      I agreed with you. They are making f1 look so USA.nothing wrong with that but f1 should keep some of the traditional stuff otherwise we will be watch nascar in few years

  2. I don’t get the tendency to bash the practices so much. Given how extremely little testing we have throughout the season, reducing practice time only seems to be depriving the drivers (and most importantly, rookies) of the time they need in the car.

    1. @pironitheprovocateur it is because Liberty Media wants to find more revenue streams, and practice sessions are not easy for them to monetise – therefore, the incentive for them is to manipulate popular sentiment against the practice sessions so they can then be replaced with something that they can demand higher fees for.

    2. I was thinking along the same lines @pironitheprovocateur. But the empathic was I heard Leclerc (and others, I think Norris?) exlaiming how fridays are boring for them and they were really happy to have some competition of friday and then again on Saturday actually made me think about this in a new light.

      And overall I now actually feel that the idea of having a qualifying session on friday after only one practice, then having a short race on saturday (Sprint race, heat, whatever we call it) and the big race on saturday feels quite satisfying.

      We do need to make sure that the pole from Friday counts for something – knowing it didn’t made me far less excited for having Hamilton beat the field, Leclerc getting it ahead of Perez and Russel claiming p8. I also fear that before too soon teams will be getting a grip on things and we won’t see the same thing where more than a unique outlier chooses to go on a different tyre (or F1 will be pushing Pirelli into bringing only bad choices to races?).

      Off course it is a potential to get more money from TV views (advertizing, tv rights etc) and promotors (since it boosts the chance of more fans arriving in time for the friday action). That is not a bad thing however, if it actually adds value to the weekend for fans.

    3. I could agree with this if practice sessions were generally filled with lots of cars out on track. However, except for this weekend, they are not. There are rarely more than half of the field out on track at once in FP. If they needed all that practice time, surely they would be out on track for most of it?

      Now, it may be that the time they are not on track is actually being spent adjusting the cars and/or analysing the data. However, I don’t believe fans want to sit watching the team (or more often, the team’s computers) analyse the data, they want to see the cars and drivers out on track. That’s what we got in FP1&2 in this format.

      As for what the point of putting miles on the car under parc ferme is, it’s the same as when they have put in a time in Q1 which is in no danger of them being eliminated: Most still go out and try to improve their time, to find where they may be able to go faster and gain a fraction of a second. That can be done in practice, too. FP2 becomes a session for the driver to practice driving the track with a fixed car setup to improve his own performance, whereas FP1 is to set the car up.

  3. It wasn’t good at all was it?

    Other than lap 1 (which is always action packed) and Perez spinning, nothing of any consequence happened.

    1. The length of a GP at least gives you the hope some strategy will play out to make it interesting. This just had no redeeming qualities.

      1. F1 died today at age 72

        1. It was good long run. Until that last sprint at the end which was not a race, but a qualified marketing exercise. That Liberty will proclaim an unqualified success!

          1. Say what you will about Bernie. At least he came from F1 and had some respect for its history since he was a big part of it. Liberty really is going to turn this into Europe’s gimmick filled version of nascar.

          2. @darryn are you kidding? Bernie had more hair-braid, gimmicky ideas than anyone.

        2. It has been dying for a while ever since 2005, most definitely very sick by 2010, terminally ill from 2014.

    2. Simon Foxwell
      18th July 2021, 8:57

      It was pointless and dull.
      The whole point of qualifying is to sort the cars to avoid a pile up at the start.
      Now we have two chances for a pile up
      Real fans want a longer actual race.
      Minimum two hours, or 100 laps.

  4. Let’s see if Monza can make this work. But Monza is typically classified as harder to overtake than Silverstone due to the drag differences being very minimal. It looked not too bad, especially with the Q2 tyre rule not into play.

  5. Agree with all points. I think it’s good to have an extra race instead of a practice session. I like the simplicity of the sprint-race format and I think the race length is about right for different tire strategies to be possible (otherwise the free tire choice isn’t much of an advantage). Those starting on the soft tires were doing well it seemed, so maybe going aggressive for such a short race is the way to go. Unfortunately, with most drivers on the same tire strategy, the race was a bit dull, but it did manage to shake up the grid for the actual race, which is a good thing.

    1. How did it shake up the grid? 1 or 2 drivers out of position isn’t a shake up.

    2. The sprint race might actually prevent shake-ups that actually can happen in a real qualifying session. This gives a chance for a top runner to save a bad quali.

      1. @darryn True, but it’s rare for the top drivers to completely mess up their qualifying. They only need a few decent laps to at least be in the top 10. In a short race much more can go wrong, which is a good thing I think.

  6. The first 3 points within ‘what failed’ can all be solved by fixing the nomenclature of sprint.

    What if we call qualifying as qualifying and just call the sprint + grand prix as a 2 part race?

    Then Hamilton is still holding pole position and there will be no “post qualifying anti climax”.

    The ‘Don’t call it a pole, don’t call it a race’ point is also gone if sprint is officially called as part 1 of a 2 part race.

    The ‘bonus points’ point also ceases to be a problem as it can be justified that a longer race (2 part race running for 400 km) requires more points to be given out.

    The other points within what failed, I agree.

    But if bulk of the problem is nomenclature and not the format, then it is hard to call what we are getting at Silverstone this weekend as anything other than a ‘success’ .

  7. Not a success in my eyes, just a lot of fuss to determine the starting grid.

  8. Martin Elliott
    17th July 2021, 18:41

    Yes, the teams need Free Practice, or better still the media/commentators should be more honest and call the 80% of it TESTING.
    But Like Lewis, the Teams didn’t seem too sure about what they could achieve in FP2.

    Even more so, the media,commentators hadn’t asked. SO more than usual, even ex-drivers were struggling to come up with meaningful words.

    Certainly an area for the review group of ALL stakeholders to discuss and redefine/move elements. Difficult if the aim is competitive action every one of the 3 days.

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    17th July 2021, 18:44

    I didn’t really like any of it. First thoughts:

    I’m with Vettel on qualifying. Pole is the quickest in actual qualifying, not a race.

    It required me to commit more time to watching F1 this weekend than normal, and at weird times. There’s only so many hours we can give or plans we can work around before sessions have to be missed, and once that happens, maybe my addiction will be broken. Much as I love F1, I’m not going to stuff up three days of plans to watch it. Two is my limit.

    It stopped when it was becoming interesting. Or at least, more interesting. It wasn’t a bad ‘race’ overall, but F1 races are often slow-burners that require the full 1.5-2 hours to unravel. This was anticlimatic.

    Now all the teams know how the tyres will behave tomorrow. They also know how quick the other teams are, and how quick they are. And we know as well. So we lose a lot of unpredictability.

    Not a fan of it at all. Just be nice when we get to the next race and everything is normal again.

    1. COTD here

    2. ‘I’m with Vettel on qualifying. Pole is the quickest in actual qualifying, not a race’
      incorrect. currently (on normal bog standard weekends), pole is the driver who starts the grand prix in first place. example, if Hamilton was p1 in quali on saturday and verstappen was p2, but hamilton had a gearbox change penalty, verstappen would get pole, and his tally would increase in the record books.

      ‘Now all the teams know how the tyres will behave tomorrow’
      so just the same as before because on the normal weekend format FP2 was used for long runs

      i can almost guarantee nothing will change tomorrow compared to a normal grand prix where perez went out in q1 and alonso and russel got to q3

    3. pastaman (@)
      17th July 2021, 21:01


  10. Overall, I’m decently happy, but I’d give points for at least top five (5-4-3-2-1) or top six (6-5-4-3-2-1), if not even top eight (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) + Change latter practice and QLF days around, so that no practice session would take place with Parc Ferme in force.

  11. I think a simpler solution would reduce Q3 to 8 cars. Having two drivers in the top 10 with free tyre choice would push the front runners into mixing up thier strategies more.

  12. Sam (@undercut677)
    17th July 2021, 18:47

    The only thing on the failed list that does not have a quick solution is the anti-climax of qualifying. All other things can be easily fixed. Even qualy can be fixed by giving 3 points for pole. So overall, this experiment has to be seen as a positive.

  13. The whole thing has just fallen a bit flat for me so far & i’m not really looking forward to seeing this weekend format repeated again.

    I said after qualifying yesterday that I just didn’t get as into it as I normally would because knowing that isn’t setting the grid for the GP & we have this extra step in-between with the sprint (Race) tomorrow just sort of made it feel less important to me. A part of the thing that makes qualifying so exciting to me is the jeopardy of it, How a mistake can cost you time which costs you grid position for the GP. Since qualifying in a sprint weekend isn’t setting the grid for the GP & we have the extra step in-between qualifying & the GP on Sunday it just took away some of that jeopardy for me which therefore took away some of the usual excitement.

    And from a personnel POV I likely won’t be able to watch qualifying on Friday’s live most of the time so that’s a downer. And yes we have catch-up & stuff to easily watch later but not watching something live takes away some of the drama & tension which helps create the excitement.

    Then you have the situation with pole position where Lewis can go out & put together a mega lap on Friday & ultimately come away with it not really meaning anything. If that had been a pole position lap for the GP it would have felt far more meaningful & far more special, As it is it was just a very good lap which won’t be remembered or officially recognised.

    In terms of the actual sprint, I still see it as unnecessary & still fail to really see what it add’s. It’s a poor way to qualify in my view & will only take something away from the GP be it some action as those who start out of position make up places in the sprint rather the GP or simply how seeing a build-up to a race with a full standing start, opening lap etc.. is going to take some of the tension out of seeing those things tomorrow.

    People keep saying it’s like a race with a 24hr red flag & using that analogy whenever we have had red flags & full standing restarts in the past (Going back to the 90s when standing restarts were the norm) the subsequent restarts always lack the buzz & excitement you get from the initial start because it’s something we’ve seen already & I worry that will be the case tomorrow for the start of the GP.

    I was very much on the sceptical side going into this weekend but was open to have my mind changed if I ended up liking how the format played out. But honestly so far I still see far more negatives than I do positives & at this point id actually say i’m ever more against the format now than I was at the start of the weekend.

    1. @stefmeister I agree, to me, the sprint race lowers the stakes for both Friday qualifying and what is effectively the start of the grand prix on Saturday.

      Keith mentions the anti-climax of the post-race presentation, there’s also the deeper anti-climax of the format itself. As Brundle pointed out on the broadcast, as you go deeper into the sprint race, the risk of an overtake begins to outweigh the reward. Without significant points on the line, everyone backs off and holds station — which is exactly what so many predicted. Contrast that to the way a traditional qualifying session builds, with track evolution and flying laps for pole coming right at the end of the session.

      Having said that, if I were attending all three days in person, I can absolutely see the appeal of Friday quali and a Nascar-style stage race spread out over two days.

      I think most of my issues with the format would be eliminated if F1 decided that traditional quali on Friday locks in the front row for Sunday, while the Saturday qualifying races set every other position (similar to how qualifying for the Daytona 500 works, with a traditional session settling pole position and the Duels setting the rest of the grid). That restores the stakes and jeopardy to Friday quali’s fight for pole. It would also mean that the top two drivers would be completely free to take the fight to each other in the Saturday sprint race for the points on offer without fear of, say, a blown tyre destroying their grand prix. It also eliminates any confusion about how “pole position” is awarded, retaining the historical format.

  14. Jonathan Bovier
    17th July 2021, 18:53

    I don’t like this exact execution of the format, but I have to admit that I am positively surprised.
    Personally I disliked that the normal qualifying, which is otherwise exciting in its own right, has been effectively devalued. For me it felt very anticlimatic to look at how close it was and then realize that this wasn’t even the final grid.

    I think if anything they should consider adding sprint races to the schedule, which scores a fraction of the points depending on the race distance before the proper GP is held as the “grand finale” of the weekend. You could even get creative and vary the race distances (like two equally long races with full point scoring) to create some variety, especially given how many modern tracks are quite similar in length and character.
    Make it a fully counting race, keep qualifying normal and don’t think about something dumb like toying with “reverse grids” and even a purist like me would be happy.

    1. I feel quite a lot like you did there Jonathan. I felt a bit “empty” on friday, wondering what the result even meant in the larger picture (fully expecting Russel to drop down on saturday, as he did, and fearing Hamilton and Leclerc might not hold on to their qualifying positions – mostly right guesses too).

      And the sprint race felt really nice for novelty, thanks a lot to the cars starting well on the softs but I am unsure how it would work if we have this become a more standard part of weekends, since teams will again start optimising things.

      I really liked the aspect of having something meaningfull/competetive on friday though.

  15. This article is completely agreeable. Some aspects were a success, some aspects were a failure. It needs some reworking but the concept as a whole shouldn’t be marked with a red cross and never seen again.

    However, as with many new things brought in to F1, the key to having it be enjoyable long-term and not just a nice distraction is with the implementation. So many good ideas get brought down by bad implementation.

    In F1 where there’s not that much opportunity to trial new rules and format changes like there is in other sports; the governing body really need to take opportunities like this to reflect honestly on how it can be done better; rather than just pushing for what’s better for the short term bottom line.

  16. What’s the point of a sprint race if the director is going to miss half the overtakes? Just awful directing today.
    I can’t say I loved the race to be honest. It was mostly about who gets the better start. And I can’t see it as fair. Thankfully we didn’t see a massive crash today but I couldn’t help but feel sorry Sainz, who is going to be punished tomorrow by Russell’s error. All in all, it was pointless.

    1. Not just awful directing, but some strange camera positioning too.

      As for the top 3 parade truck – well… far too enclosed with that back “wall” and wide pillars. Needed to be open like the truck for the Sunday driver parade.

      If there 𝘩𝘢𝘴 to be a sprint race format, remove the “decides the Grand Prix starting grid” element. Run it like F2 race weekend. Sprint race with lower points for Top 10 finishers (half points maybe). Grand Prix with Top 10 finishers given full points

  17. Although I was vocally against this experiment as it always seemed pointless from the get go, I kept an open throughout the weekend. I still think is pointless, but there were things that could be availed for the real race, the Grand Prix.

    The first, letting drivers decide which tyre to start. Better yet, bringing very compound to the weekend or, at least, a 4th choice. Alonso made pretty good use of his softs, which should shine at the eyes of any bureaucrat who likes “da show” and stuff.

    I absolutely like the introduction of the laurel wreath for the winner and the victory lap talking for the crowds. I really do think it would fit greatly at post-race, with some refinement. Because today it made poor service, as the provided wreath felt cheap and the “victory lap” was a flop that lasted 1 and a half lap in a closed truck that impaired the victor’s display.

    As for the format itself, it felt odd. Messed up practises (which exist for a reason, and it is not to please audiences) and statistics, as it should never ever be messed. Verstappen’s start today was mighty, but Hamilton’s quali lap (pre-quali or whatever the heck it is called) remains the stand-out of the weekend so far and should’ve been awarded with pole.

    In the Sprint, the excitement was nowhere after lap 2. To be honest, if they took the infamous Knockout-quali in a sprint race, then maybe it would be something. Even sprinkles sounds better right now.

    I may be out of a limb here, but after those two days I actually think qualifying should be on Saturday morning so that we could experience track evolution different from what will be on Sunday, which raises the possibilities of what happened yesterday’s quali. Then, a warmup session in the afternoon: we would see cars pushing on track to check conditions, regulating the wings and choosing tyres to start the day after and, who knows, maybe even with some relaxation from parc ferme rules.

    All in all, despite messing up with the pole figures, the experiment wasn’t that bad, but I do hope they drop this abomination as soon as possible.

  18. Now that the starting grid, and early running order has been confirmed, will this result in Sundays GP being more likely a processional affair.?
    Apart from Perez having to start at the back and possibly Verstappen’s brakes being in question, how was this not just a waste of time. Yes, some excitement for the moment, but at the end of Sunday, that is when the reckoning should be done. Not on Saturday evening.

  19. Please,@keithcollantine, pleeeease give us an edit button! >)

  20. I am fine with having a new session of consequence, but it shouldn’t be a race, reward points on that day or undermine qualifying. Unfortunately this has all three.
    I was thinking of replacing one of the friday practice session with a qualifying shoot out similar to the old qualifying format, a sort of qualifying and free practice hybrid. The top times on friday could be awarded points as they take the checkered flag on sunday, so that a championship cannot be won on a friday. Have them start sundays race on the tyres used on friday if they want to keep said points and you bring in a small advantage for those in the back as well.
    I am sure there are many other better ideas to be thought of.

  21. Failure for me.

    The start and free tyre choices naturally create some tension at the beginning. On the other hand, if you keep the Sprint & the following main race has a standing restart after a red flag, then suddenly you can have 3 standing starts in single weekend. And while starts are partly about drivers skills, they are also partially about luck as well – driver is simply too much affected by what happens around him. Do F1 fans really want to have that 2 or 3 times during race weekend? Similarly, the tyre choices can easily be remedied as a part of quali modification you dont need a whole event for that.

    The race weekend also simply gets too prolonged to watch. 3 events over 3 days is too much especially with the full calendar like this year. It ruins the simple stereotype format of weekend – quali at 2 PM on Saturday and race at 2 PM on Sunday. This week I was quite lost with the shifted times (hours) schedule & this schedule would have to vary – you cant have quali or sprint “race” this late at all weather seasons & at all continents/places.

    You simply loose a clear weekend schedule as well as long tradition of clear connection between qualifying & race, for what I see is only additional screentime for all the sponsors & TV-rights holders. Maybe it works for the audience at the venue – they certainly see some more action, but is it worth it?

  22. And into the bin it goes.

  23. It was strange. It sort of worked and failed at the same time.

    I think the potential is there, It didn’t really work, but it’s just held back by these cars struggling to follow. With the 2022 cars, it could be really good. It’s a format that needs close racing, being tried by cars that struggle to race closely.

    There was a good risk v reward element where bravery came in and mistakes could be brutally punished. Arguably there was more to lose than gain.

    But perhaps controversially…. i think it was actually TOO long. (Again, based on THESE cars, the 2022 cars could well change that entirely)

    Drivers just ended up being fairly cautious, getting stuck behind slower cars who jumped them on the opening lap, then when they got past, they were totally out of touch from the cars in front with not enough time to catch back up.

    And on the flip side, the drivers that did some ballsy moves in slower cars, threw softs on etc and gained multiple places ended up having that risk not really rewarded because they had to hold on too long and ended up losing most the places again anyway. In reality, the first few laps were pretty good, the last 7 or 8 laps ended up being fairly irrelevant as a spectacle.

    It’s not a disaster, and will be good to see if they refine it in further trials.

    I wouldn’t say it’s added much to the show but for a first go, it also showed enough to suggest its worth a few more shots at it.

  24. It’s kind of a Nascar race. Segment 1 done.

  25. A lot of conservatives here. Always complaining and when something new it tried, just burn it down…
    I think it has potential. Main thing to me is that we should see it as a replacement for one of the FP’s, not replacing qualitfying. Meaning the qualification could still determine pole for the Sunday race.
    The sprint race could be on it’s own, with points and maybe, as someone said on another thread, to determine the sequence of hot laps in qually.
    It’s the first try, let’s see how it can be improved. At least the drivers seem to like it…

  26. Free tyre choice in both races

    I’m still not convinced about this. One stop races will be even more the norm.

  27. I think that they need to try this in Monaco.

    1. Monaco would actually be very interesting, because that’s an extreme case – Monaco is extremely boring due to no overtaking possibilities and most of the enjoyment comes from watching the cars drive fast around the tight streets. SO, if I got my yearly fix of that on Saturday, I would most likely not even bother tuning in on Sunday.

    2. pastaman (@)
      17th July 2021, 21:04

      Yeah what’s better than one boring race at Monaco? TWO boring races at Monaco!

  28. We were treated to a great qualifying session on Friday thanks to the removal of the tyre strategy. Everyone going for a proper time on soft tyres in every session. More of this please!

    But sadly that great session was meaningless because Lewis blew the start of the Sprint Qualifying and apart from a great battle through the first lap we just watched 30 minutes of cars running in a queue. And Max has another “pole position” stat which seems wrong because he didn’t deliver the fastest lap in qualifying. Plus a trivial number of extra points get handed out to the cars that will get plenty of points on Sunday as well, and just put them further out of the reach of the rest of the field.

    FP2 was a complete waste of time.

    The sprint was too short for tyre strategy. And let’s be honest, F1 rarely has any passes that aren’t a direct result of tyre strategy.

    And as much as I love F1 – I don’t want to have to make time on THREE days of the week to keep up with the action. Two sessions against the clock is enough.

    If you are going to make it three timed sessions, you may as well follow the format the lower series do to give people a bit more action. Proper qualifying (that creates the real pole position), a sprint race with a shuffled grid that offers decent points (e.g. 30-50% of the GP to reflect the distance they race for), and then a full GP on the Sunday.

    But then it won’t be F1 any more, will it? This is the pinnacle of motorsport and should be the purest expression of it, without gimmicks. Yes, F1 can be boring, but it is based on the principles of qualifying for the grid, and racing for the points.

  29. Sorry. This is a mess.

  30. I wanted to dislike the sprint race, but it was somewhat exciting.
    There’s no doubt if it is a gimmick, just haven’t yet decided if it’s a bad gimmick.
    However, i think it beeing the first of its kind was a factor, and teams will learn enough to not make the same mistakes again.
    I think next time everyone will be on softs, as the endurance of the mediums really didn’t have time to come to effect, so no Alonso swoosh-swoosh start, and risk will be discouraged with “remember what happened to Checo last time”.
    Still, I think we’ll be wiser at the end of the season, and see if it really is a bad gimmick.

  31. For me, it’s a failure; Now I’m sure I saw this “only top 3 get points qualifying somewhere… Was it in the early seasons of Formula E? (3 for first, 2 for second, and 1 for third)

  32. Agree with most points, though don’t mind the pole sitter be the Sunday guy rather than the single lap hero (happened before).

    I rather enjoyed it.

    I’m also enjoying with my glass half full the many negative comments on this site (even from contributors I respect a lot).
    Hard crowd to please it seems, and not a lot of fun in those households.

  33. As a lifelong fan I was looking forward to this weekend with what promised to be an added day of entertainment. I found however that Friday’s quali was less interesting simply because I knew not everything was on the table. There was yet another day of quali. Nevertheless I looked forward to Saturday’s sprint. And yet today I was left feeling like I was watching a half race with no strategy.

    The idea was noble, but it’s not going to work for me.

    1. I agree with this.

      Qualifying was mega but felt a bit flat after, because you knew the grid wasn’t set by it. Then the sprint race was fun and better than some predicted, but again it felt a bit flat because we do it all again tomorrow.

      I’m more a traditionalist but I came into it with an open mind and was looking forward to more on track action. But I think it’s a classic example of over-saturation devaluing the product. The more races we have, the less excitement they generate.

  34. I think only Alonso understood this format and what needs to be done. You must be very aggressive, take risks and fight as hard as you can. Although Alonso does everything I mentioned in (almost) every race, but in this sprint his style and attitude were even more expressive than usual.

    PS: Also, F2 sprint race is longer than F1 sprint race? Why?

    1. Agree with this.

  35. Just ask all the drivers on a racing weekend if they wanna have a reverse championship race instead of FP2.
    If all 20 say yes then have at it.

    Leave Saturday & Sunday as is for now.

  36. Perhaps I’m being a little whacky here. But…. well…

    What about “sprint pole” and “race b pole”?

    1. Sorry. The “b” was not intentional. i.e. should read;

      What about “sprint pole” and “race pole”?

  37. Remember how 1hr quali was improved by splitting to 3 sessions? Here’s an idea: turn 1 100km sprint race -> 3 30km sprint races! Now THAT gets me excited.

  38. I regard two of the three listed positives (free tyre choice and spreading key sessions across three days) as negatives. Tyre choice means fewer drivers are candidates for points and the majority of people won’t get Friday qualifying sessions if they become a regular thing, meaning you’ve just told most fans they only get Race Part 1 and Race Part 2.

    There’s little incentive to try one’s best, and some incentive to deliberately lose a position. Silverstone’s unusually grippy on the even side of the grid, but at COTA for example, it would 100% be worth losing 2nd and a championship point to demote oneself to 3rd during the sprint, because it would give a better chance of gaining the 3 extra championship points for 2nd vs 3rd in the full race. It becomes like DRS detection trickery (though many drivers haven’t figured that out in 10 years, so I don’t hold my breath for the benefit to be appreciated while this experiment continues).

    There’s so much similarity between the sprint and the actual race that it is better for drivers to treat it as Race Part 1 than a standalone sprint. Which means conservatism has to rule the day, giving little incentive to try an overtake. On the other hand, it’s so short that there’s plenty of incentive to break the rules doing over-aggressive defending (in my opinion, Alonso should have been penalised for weaving because he was still doing it after being warned – and it took nearly the whole race to get round to issuing the warning for conduct he’d done all race…) The result is less overtaking, and fewer overtaking attempts, than in the actual race.

    I think it worked better for people who were there, because it conveyed much of the visceral feel that I think was intended, and weaknesses of the type I discuss are shown up more by TV viewers (who by necessity receive much less of that feel, and a rather more helicopter view of proceedings). Moves TV viewers could see were never going to work still look like they would have been exciting from a grandstand viewer’s perspective, which explains why the “aural vote” at the track was so positive despite everything I’ve just enumerated. People attend races to get the most intense feelings possible, and whatever else one says about the sprint, it looked very much capable of transmitting those feelings when a TV or social media screen wasn’t in the way.

    Nonetheless, I think sprint qualifying is a bit of a fail – although some elements are conceivably improvable by going to different tracks.

    If there really needs to be a sprint in the weekend, I’d prefer something like this:

    Q1 and Q2 to be as before.
    Q3 to be the top 10, with a rolling start in order of Q2 position, doing a 3-lap race.
    DRS on the last lap (unless counter-indicated).

    If there really needs to be a split across 3 days (which I’m against because Friday sessions aren’t screened by the broadcasters most people watch), I’d want Q1 on Friday and Q2/Q3 on Saturday. Got to build that anticipation…

  39. I disagree this was ‘action on all three days’ and don’t quite get where this idea came from. The old format built up perfectly to the race while this doesn’t, leaving a huge amount of downtime between the excitement of normal qualifying and the race proper (sprint qualifying is more a blip of excitement with the start and after that not much). The tyre differences were pretty meaningless while reduced practice didn’t change anything.

  40. I truly don´t see what this silly gimmick brings to F1. But just on the FIRST edition revealed a travesty: Hamilton clocked the fastest lap on Friday and again during this thing clocked the fastest lap. But will start the race in second place. How about that?
    A system that let things like this happen must the put carefully in the non-recycled bin.

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