Don’t use sprint qualifying to decide starting grid for grand prix – Leclerc

2021 British Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Charles Leclerc says Formula 1’s sprint qualifying format would be improved if Saturday’s race was separate from the grand prix.

Under the new format, used for the first time at the British Grand Prix earlier this month, an extra race was held on Saturday to decide the starting order for the grand prix. The ordinary qualifying session was moved forward to Friday.

Formula 1 took the unprecedented step of announcing the pole position winner would be decided by the sprint qualifying session, a decision which attracted considerable criticism.

Leclerc wants F1 to continue using regular qualifying to set the grid for the grand prix at sprint qualifying weekends. However he praised other aspects of the new format, such as the reduced amount of practice time before qualifying on Friday.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Leclerc. “The Friday normally is so boring. Honestly in the car I just want the Friday to be done.

“Now finally we have a Friday where FP1 straightaway we need to be on it, we have qualifying straight after, which I enjoyed a lot more. Then a sprint qualifying, that makes it exciting, and the Sunday, a great race.”

Formula 1 have indicated they will consider the future of the format, and any potential changes to it, after its initial three-race run this year. Leclerc sees scope for improvement.

“If I give my personal opinion I think maybe the qualifying should be the start of the race,” he said. “The format needs to be maybe a little bit modified but overall I think it is definitely a gain, in my opinion. Maybe the Saturday do a race but keep the starting grid from the qualifying.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lando Norris also enjoyed the shortened build-up to the weekend’s qualifying session, when drivers had just one hour of practice instead of three.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2021
Leclerc praised sprint qualifying but sees room for improvement
“I enjoyed Friday a lot, just having one practice straight into quali,” said Norris. “I think it’s quite cool, it’s similar to what we did in Formula 2 and Formula 3 and things like that.

“So I enjoy it. I think it’s more of a test, not just for us as drivers, but also for engineers and things like that to try to get on top of everything quicker instead of having a whole day and then the night to kind of perfect everything and put so much time into it.”

The McLaren driver was more guarded in his praise for the sprint qualifying race, saying he wouldn’t want to have one at every round of the world championship.

“I think it’s good to just race, but it’s not something I would want to do every single weekend,” he said. “I think having it every now and then is good, I think it is good for the fans if you have it in specific races. But I like also just the normal one with the qualifying and then the build up to Sunday, the main race.

“I’m mixed on it. But for us it’s not important if like it or not, I don’t mind it, if it was a better show for the fans and it means they enjoy a Saturday more then I’m happy with it.”

Don’t use sprint qualifying at every race, says Norris
One criticism of the new format was that it meant the Saturday morning second free practice session became inconsequential. However Norris isn’t convinced this is a major departure for F1.

“Is there ever entertainment from FP sessions?” he asked.

“I don’t think it’s made much difference compared to an FP3. Maybe FP3 is a little bit more exciting because you see the pace of everyone before qualifying so you get to judge things maybe a little bit yourself and people like doing that.

“But I don’t know what else you would do because the only thing you prepare for is long runs and race pace and that’s never the most entertaining thing. Everyone likes qualifying, one-lap shoot-out. That’s the only thing that makes FP3 a bit more entertaining. But FP1 and FP2’s never entertaining so I don’t see it being any different to normal really.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

66 comments on “Don’t use sprint qualifying to decide starting grid for grand prix – Leclerc”

  1. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    26th July 2021, 12:20

    The consensus seems to bee that people don’t hate it, some actually like it, but nobody knows what to do with it.

    I agree the quali should set the GP grid, and that the sprint race shouldn’t have any impact on the GP starting grid.

    As a gimmick, it really wouldn’t be bad at all, as long as it didn’t influence the GP.

    Maybe find some other use for it?

      1. On the Marbles
        26th July 2021, 14:16

        Require all teams to run one rookie and one of their normal drivers? this would allow for example the reserve drivers to have a go at proper racing and for teams to assess abilities much better, as well as providing additional ‘spectacle’ on a Saturday.

        Don’t award WDC points but do allow limited WCC points?

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      26th July 2021, 14:41

      I like the odd gimmick now and then, but as far as gimmicks go, sprint qualifying is a bad one.

      Leclerc’s comment is fine if you stop the sentence after the first four words.

      It was a disaster in my opinion. Quite frankly it was pretty meaningless and a bit boring. I hope the following sprint races are better, but I just think they are a bad solution to a genuine opportunity.

      I say get the F1 drivers to earn there corn. Every race weekend a spec car should also be raced. Something like a BMW procar or a touring car, anything really. Changing for each event.

      Something like:
      Friday – Spec car practice + qualy, FP1, spec car race, FP2
      Saturday Spec car qualy , FP3, Spec car race, F1 Qualy
      Sunday Spec car race, F1 race

      F1 drivers in equal cars!

      Spec cars would be a separate championship

      I’d love that. A better gimmick than F1 sprint races.

      1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk No thanks. Not doable, not feasible, not affordable, and talk about your distractions and gimmicks, lol.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          26th July 2021, 16:40

          Not doable.. its been done before.
          Not feasible.. doable and feasible mean the same!
          Not affordable… depends who’s paying, just think of all that lovely sponsorship space.
          I think it would be great fun.

          1. Yeah it would be fun, but it’s just not gonna happen :)

    2. That attitude is not that surprising when the entire concept seems to be a case of “we’ll agree to the idea, but will work out later how it should work”.

    3. I’m in the same boat, I did not like it being used as a qualifier; it’s not fair or giving all drivers an even chance to put in their best lap on that track. Mid pack and back markers in sprint race will be at a disadvantage to cars in the front.

      Maybe have a Friday evening sprint race instead of FP2. Then Sat. can be FP3 to make any adjustments learned from sprint race and then have normal quali after that. All three days will want to be seen and popular.

      No idea how to reward good results in the sprint race.

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    26th July 2021, 12:27

    If it has to remain, I think that’s the way to do it. Choose a few GPs a year to do it and then have it as a separate Saturday sprint race and use the same grid for both races. I don’t personally think that’s be an improvement over how F1 used to be but at least it makes sense unlike what they trialled at Silverstone.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th July 2021, 12:30

      @petebaldwin agreed, otherwise the sprint race has the potential to ruin the actual race for drivers just as it did for 2 of them.

    2. @petebaldwin Yeah I think this is the conclusion I’m coming to as well. Have the Friday qualifying set the grid for both the sprint race and the full race. That way the new format doesn’t detract from qualifying the way it did in Silverstone by essentially diluting qualifying by making it only one of two sessions which set the grid. Then I think you need to increase the points allocation for the sprint to ensure all teams and drivers are incenitivised to get a good result. Maybe 2003-2009 era points – 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the top 8 in the sprint.

      Purists might not like it influencing the championship but I feel overall it is a better format than the current compromise which in my view doesn’t really achieve much other than spreading out qualifying over two sessions.

      1. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, as long as there is also a reasonable effect on the count-back. Otherwise, I can very much see teams who cannot make the top 8 retiring early and/or refusing to fight because there is no value to it and it could spoil Sunday, which does have value to them.

        However, if it is going to have no effect on the Sunday race, I think there would be more value starting in a different order rather than using the same grid as the race. Otherwise, you will most often get the same result between the sprint race and the main race, IMHO, and without the pitstop tactics to worry about, you will normally see a half hour procession.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          26th July 2021, 14:53

          @drmouse very interesting perspective. I was going to suggest giving points to teams outside top 10 for positions gained during sprint race. It has its own pitfalls.

        2. @drmouse I think that’s a good point but there should be a way to tweak the format to ensure drivers are incentivised towards at least finishing the sprint race. If it’s not too harsh maybe they could say that finishing the sprint race is a pre-requisite to keeping your established grid spot, and dnfs would have to start at the back. If that’s too harsh, then maybe apply grid penalties for dnfs of say 5 places for the main race.

          I’m not sure how to incentisive drivers outside the top 8 (in my example) to getting a strong finish, but all I would say is – don’t the Alfas, Williams and Haas drivers all keep pushing to the end of a grand prix even though they are well out of the points? Maybe they don’t need much incentive as long as the team are allowed to perform basic maintenance and repairs between the sprint and main race.

          1. @keithedin

            don’t the Alfas, Williams and Haas drivers all keep pushing to the end of a grand prix even though they are well out of the points?

            They all know that, in the event of a tie in points, there is a count back to determine the final order. This keeps some value in finishing even in fairly low positions for all but the top teams.

      2. @petebaldwin cc @freelittlebirds @keithedin @drmouse
        Yeah, I agree with decoupling the Saturday race from the grand prix.

        The only thing I would add is that instead of using the same grid for both days, one option might be to set the grid for Saturday based on every driver’s second-fastest time from Friday qualifying. That might mix the grid up a bit since, if the cars do two runs, both runs will count, and drivers won’t be able to simply abandon a run with a mistake. At minimum, it will force some teams into having to do three runs, and spice up quali that bit more.

        1. I find it interesting and a bit surprising to read the above comments and similar comments below for a couple of reasons. One is that the original question was ‘Is there a more exciting way to qualify?’ And secondly, upon asking that question the majority of people that have made up the majority of opinions, those being negative, have claimed it is just Liberty/Brawn wanting another race for the sake of another race, and for revenues.

          I don’t see the point of a Sprint on Saturday, if the grid for the race is set the usual way but on Friday. Nor if the grid set on Friday is the same as for Sunday’s race. Doesn’t that then make the Sprint just another race for the sake of having more races? If it is not to qualify, then what is the point?

          For now I think they need to do as Brawn has suggested and give it the three trials before they change anything major with it. It just seems to me that being the first one, the drivers and the fans still felt like the pole winner on Friday was to be celebrated as much as if it was for Sunday’s race. I wonder if for the second and third trial there will be less of that affect and more of a realization that real pole is set in the Sprint.

          I think there is something to the phenomenon as well that up until this year qualifying was pretty much the how-much-will-LH-get-pole-by session, and now that it is between LH and Max the excitement level has escalated for regular qualifying. Not saying it isn’t escalated for race starts as well of course, including the Sprint in Silverstone. So I am not surprised that now of all seasons people are more excited about flying lap qualifying and are saying don’t change it.

          As I say, imho, for now they should not change anything for the next trials, unless perhaps it is about any changes they can make between sessions, and just see how it settles in with people once they know from experience Friday’s qualifying is not the same as qualifying for Sunday’s race, which I think for many is what it still felt like for the first trial.

          1. @robbie

            One is that the original question was ‘Is there a more exciting way to qualify?’ And secondly, upon asking that question the majority of people that have made up the majority of opinions, those being negative, have claimed it is just Liberty/Brawn wanting another race for the sake of another race, and for revenues.

            Opinions change, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The pretence of the sprint race being a qualifying session was to avoid upsetting purists who didn’t want to see another race detracting from the grand prix. But now that the sprint race is a reality, it does seem it’s become more palatable to embrace it as a standalone race.

            Which then leads to the issue you point out — how to set a second grid without it being exactly the same. But there’s any number of ways to resolve that. You could, like I said, use the second-fastest lap from Friday quali. You could use the fastest lap from FP2, which would add intrigue to that session and force the teams into some interesting decisions on managing their run plan.

            For me, the biggest downside of the current sprint race format is that it was a bit of a downer as a qualifying session; unlike the knockout format, it got more boring as it went on since teams had more to lose and less to gain. Regardless of what F1 calls it, it plays out like the first stage of Nascar race. What I like about the sprint race is that it means more consequential action on every day of the event. And I do think that the shifting response to it — even though much of it has been critical in these sorts of forums — sort of validates Brawn’s whole strategy, which was that F1 is so resistant to change, it’s more important to get some sort of Saturday race implemented and iterate from there.

            I wonder if for the second and third trial there will be less of that affect and more of a realization that real pole is set in the Sprint.

            Just from reading the news, it seems that, if anything, opinion in the paddock is hardening the other way — that Friday qualifying is the true pole position. It feels like we’re moving towards recognizing the sprint race as a standalone, lesser race, which would be fine by me.

          2. @markzastrow Fair comment. But the pretence of the sprint being qualifying was to answer the question ‘Is there a more exciting way to qualify for the race?’ not to ‘sneak in’ another race as you seem to imply. I still say why have the Sprint at all if it is not to qualify. Why have such a standalone race? To what end?

            Perhaps if you think the Sprint got more boring as it went along, it is safe to say that is the opposite to the knockout format, which for me starts out predictable and boring, and ends in something more exciting, whereas the Sprint starts out with much tension and buildup for the race start, and the start itself, and for me personally, a settled in race is still more exciting then the bulk of flying lap qualifying.

            You may be right that opinion is hardened that Friday qualifying is the true qualifying, but I think only time will tell, and I still wonder if that is merely the reaction because it has only been one trial, the first time something different like this has been tried. We’ll know more after the second and third trial, as my understanding is Brawn won’t be changing much over the three Sprint weekends. For the time being I still say if the Sprint is just a standalone race and isn’t for anything other than that, and qualifying for Sunday’s race is still the usual format but on Friday, then why bother? Although of course they do want to make Friday a more meaningful day.

            I think we should wait (and it seems like they are) for the three trials to be completed before they make any major decisions.

          3. @robbie I agree with you.

            This format was supposedly set to measure “is there a better way to qualify” or at least that’s what we were told was the reasons for experimenting with it.

            I’m concerned that now its been found a bit wanting (my opinion only) and hasn’t added any real value, the powers that be will try and change things around until they get a more positive reaction rather than to do as promised which was to trial the format and then, if it didn’t work, discard it.

            Lets finish the experiment and then make decisions. If it worked, keep it with some possible tweaks, if not then get rid of it.

            I still say this should have been held off until 2022 – without cars being able to follow closely, the sprint format really isn’t going to provide much. That being said, I won’t be the least bit upset if they discard sprint qualifying, or whatever they decide to call it, at the end of this year.

      3. No one wants to go into the Race with a damaged car, so why would you want to be involved with the Sprint? Currently the Sprint Race is a prelude to the Race. So Qualifying sets the order for the Sprint Race, and the finishing order of that decides where you start the Race. If Qualifying sets the order for both the Sprint Race and the Race, then why should anyone outside the points be interested in contesting the Sprint? Why should Williams, Haas, Alfa Romeo, etc send out their cars to the Sprint and expect their drivers to complete the 100 km distance? They could achieve more by not attending the Sprint. If Qualifying sets the order for both the Sprint Race and the Race and Points and partial points were on offer, that might be enough incentive for teams to be involved with the Sprint. If there aren’t Points on offer or it doesn’t affect where you start the Race then what other reason is there for teams to contest the Sprint?

        1. @drycrust

          No one wants to go into the Race with a damaged car, so why would you want to be involved with the Sprint?

          If that were the direction F1 would go in, you’d surely want to get rid of parc ferme after the Saturday race so teams could repair the cars for Sunday. With the cost cap, there’s not much need for parc ferme anyway, as the original intent was to contain costs by preventing the development of qualifying cars.

          why should anyone outside the points be interested in contesting the Sprint? … If Qualifying sets the order for both the Sprint Race and the Race and Points and partial points were on offer, that might be enough incentive for teams to be involved with the Sprint.

          That could work too, although as @drmouse mentions, the countback system already functions as a sort of de facto partial points system. I’d argue for counting sprint race results on equal footing with grand prix results for the purposes of countback, but you could also do it as half-results, i.e. two sprint race 11th places are equal to one grand prix 11th place.

        2. @drycrust Is this a reply to me? Sorry it’s hard to see the different indentation levels on iPad. But anyway, if it is then like I said in my comment you would need to award more point further down the order, for example 2003-2008 scoring system for top 8 cars. And possibly make it a prerequisite that you finish the race to retain your original qualifying position to ensure all cars run the distance of the sprint race when they are able to.

  3. The stuff about “practice sessions aren’t entertaining” is a red herring. Practice sessions are used by the teams to perfect their set-up, which allows them to push in the competitive sessions and improve the entertainment overall. We saw at Silverstone how some teams and drivers struggled more than others with the limited running time before the Friday qualifying session. To my mind that isn’t entertaining, it just makes things more of a lottery.

    1. Thing is @red-andy, the question remains whether teams and drivers being able to have more preparation time does much to improve the entertainment overall, especially in a world where they already do hundreds of hours in the simulator and in 3D design to have setup prepared ahead of the weekend, and then are able to do yet more simulation between fridays FP2 and saturdays FP3 to further tune and push out any uncertainties and fix a strategy for the race.

      I think that the shorter sessions we have this year actually helped make race weekends somewhat better, because it meant that less of those questions were answered (internally within the teams) long before they got to qualifying and even longer before the race and result in a carefully planned strategy “battle” where only big upsets really bring us unknown factors back into the race.

    2. FP is for the fans, the ones that take their time to simply watch cars go round. Big teams want to keep some fp because it helps them avoid any surprises. I don’t agree that having fp helps the spectacle on sunday, I think it helps to make the race more deterministic.

  4. Rookie drivers should be allowed to have extra practice each week.

  5. I wonder if they will be just as happy with the format at the first race at the beginning of next year with a new car, only three days of pre-season testing and a one hour practice before qualifying.

    We will be able to hear the crying from miles away.

  6. Someone on here mooted this idea on here a couple of days ago. I think it’s quite a good idea but to give the sprint race some relevance, I think they would need to award the sprint races a few more points.

    So I agree with only having them at a few GPs but perhaps award points for the top 6 e.g. 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1? This way there is more in it for the drivers. Otherwise there would no point in half the field making any effort.

    1. If you want to go back to 6 places, it used to be 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1.

  7. I don’t think it’s any surprise that the drivers like the extra track time as do the engineers. But the problem remains if they leave as is it’s a bit of an out of place piece on the board. If they increase the points as they have already talked about it could become an equal to the Sunday race.
    The 2021 F1 Sprint Series could expand into the F1 series with a 40 race season. I think dropping Friday from the weekend is very much on the table as well. Cramming as much into as short a time as possible makes sense financially for Liberty and the promoters.

    1. It makes a lot less sense for the tracks, though. I expect they would want a discount if there is no Friday F1 running, as far fewer people will pay for Friday tickets, and it would become less attractive for support races to have action on Friday with fewer spectators, too.

  8. To throw another idea out there. For the third race of the weekend British F3 uses a format where the grid is completely reversed from the qualifying session earlier in the weekend. Points are given to the top finishers (albeit fewer than are on offer for the ‘conventional’ races earlier on), and bonus points are also awarded for making up places. So if the driver starting at the back (who was on pole earlier in the weekend) makes up five places in the reverse-grid race, he gets an extra 5 points.

    I know reverse grids have been considered and rejected in the recent past, but I think a similar format for the sprint races in F1 would add value and interest. The bonus points would provide an incentive for the faster drivers at the back to carve their way through the field, and hopefully address some of the complaints about a reverse grid format being unsporting.

    The big challenge would be calibrating the points system so that a Grand Prix win remained the, er, big prize, rather than potentially scoring more points by winning the sprint race and overtaking lots of cars to do it.

    1. Don’t object to that concept but it would have to be at certain tracks only. Monaco would be a dreadful place for such a race. It’s hardly a race as it currently is!

      1. @tallen

        If next year’s cars provide closer racing, it would work a lot better at many more tracks.

        1. If next year’s cars provide better racing, sprint quali, drs, and other gimmicks are a moot point

  9. I like the how the shorter sessions mix things up in terms of preparation, however i agree that qualifying should set the grid for the GP.
    I think a small number of Sprint Races is a great idea but only as a separate competition, a little like a Grand Slam or Twenty20. Non-championship races have happened in the past so i don’t think it would be that much of a stretch.

    1. But how much effort would the teams put into something which didn’t count for the championship, which is where the big money and prestige lies?

      1. This is why I think the sprint race points have to count towards the championship. Even if in a limited way. Or there is little point in the teams making the effort. So I think a limited number of sprint races would be fine e.g. 3 or 4, but not more than this, if they count towards the championship.

    2. @shakey66 @drmouse Honestly i’d love it if they did make the sprint races a separate thing to the rest of the weekend/championship as then i’d feel fine completely ignoring them. As it is with them deciding the grid for the GP with points going towards the championship I feel as if I have to watch them even if I don’t actually like them (As I felt the sprit at Silverstone took away some of my excitement going into both qualifying & the GP) as I don’t want to miss anything that ends up been crucial for the GP or championship.

      TBH though I just hated the whole thing over the Silverstone weekend, Not just the sprint but also how the overall format affected the running & overall feel of the rest of the sessions.

      I like practice on Friday, I like just watching the cars, Looking for updates & how they are affecting things & comparing/analysing what drivers are doing while switching around some of the OnBoards we get on Sky. At Silverstone while we did see more running in FP1 it just sort of felt really rushed & more difficult than normal to follow & I never felt like I really learnt anything or had time to do some of what I usually enjoy doing.

  10. I think there should be carrot and stick plus enhanced activity for the whole weekend

    Fri morning FP1 [as is for all weekends]
    Fri afternoon quali for sprint [as is for revised format]
    Sat morning sprint race [brought forward from afternoon] more points perhaps? unlock parc ferme after race
    Sat afternoon, following car changes, hold qualifying for main race
    Sunday afternoon GP

  11. I think it only works in much the same format as it was.

    If more points are awarded it simply gifts more points to the top two teams and will also start to compete with the primary Grand Prix. It would also effectively turn the championship into a 30 or 40 race Nascar style behemoth.

    And if Fri qual sets the grid for both races that could overdose the importance of qual.

    I like the shortened practice and straight into quali. I loved ditching the Q3 tire rule. And more on track action for the fans in the grandstand is a plus.

    But it just kinda doesn’t fit…

  12. Personally i’d rather we get rid of the sprint races altogether… but if we have to have sprint races in the future, we should at least change the format. In my opinion, the following format is worth a try:

    • Friday morning: 1-1.5hour Practice that also sets the grid for the sprint race. In the space of 1-1.5 hours teams can find a good-enough set up and do a few quali runs. At the end of the session the results set up the grid for the grid race. Think of it as the old 1hour qualifying, but it will be more action packed since teams would not want to wait for the last 10min to just set a time, but they’d want to do some practice as well. Parc fermé conditions start.
    • Friday afternoon: Sprint Race based on the grid and car that was decided by the practice before. Points down to 8th place (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1). Parc fermé conditions end.
    • Saturday morning: 45min-1hour Practice, teams fine tuning their set up. Parc fermé conditions start.
    • Saturday afternoon: Qualifying
    • Sunday: Race

    1. I was just going to suggest something similar. Each day would have an “important” session, which seem to be the main goal for this whole thing, and even the FP’s could be more action-packed.
      Friday would have one intense practice session where the teams set up their cars for the sprint. Not having time to perfect everything in simulators overnight also does seem to be a good thing. Following that up with a short race should make an interesting day. Saturday would have a practice where they could work on one-lap pace, in combination with finding that all important compromise for a setup that will be locked in for the main race as well, this time inevitably with overnight data though. The important part is to have parc fermè rules that allow tinkering with the cars again, before locking them down for quali and race as usual.
      But I’m not sure I want three days of action. I’m sure it’s great for those that attend at the track, but following a race weekend from home it’s honestly a bit much. And even though there are 6-figure attendances at the tracks, that’s just a fraction of everyone watching. I usually watch a recorded broadcast a few hours later (sometimes the day after) to fit with the rest of my life. The time between the real start of a session to when I can actually sit down and watch it I have to actively avoid getting things spoiled. Three consecutive days of that I would soon stop caring probably, and so it would become watered down to something I may not watch at all. From my personal point of view it would be a better alternative to instead have shorter race-weeks, but more of them.
      I also see a problem with the reshuffle proposed here, in that the sprint race wouldn’t be meaningful for all participants. With points for only a few at the top, why would anyone in the slower teams risk damaging a car by racing at all? I strongly believe the main points scoring system should be changed to include all cars on the grid anyway. So with a sprint race that only rewards the top guys we have the same problem again. Every position gained must always be rewarded in some way.

      1. But I’m not sure I want three days of action. I’m sure it’s great for those that attend at the track, but following a race weekend from home it’s honestly a bit much. But I’m not sure I want three days of action. I’m sure it’s great for those that attend at the track, but following a race weekend from home it’s honestly a bit much.

        I agree 100% with these thoughts.

        I love F1 but we’ve gotten to the point of oversaturation lately. We now have 23 races and on top of that 3 sprint races… so basically 26 races.
        I think the majority of people can’t spend as much time as to watch every single session. And we’re lucky we are in the middle of a good title fight. Imagine if we had 23+3 races back in the 2014-16 Mercedes domination era. I wouldn’t be bothered to watch most of them.
        And with plans to expand and maybe having more races and more sprint gran slam weekends, I don’t think it will have the appeal that Liberty thinks it would.

        the sprint race wouldn’t be meaningful for all participants. With points for only a few at the top, why would anyone in the slower teams risk damaging a car by racing at all?

        Although I agree with the logic behind that, there should be a incentive that the backmackers can go after. But awarding points down to 20th place, is like giving out participation trophies to everyone.
        If we have for example a points system for the sprint race that awards points down to 20th place like this: 20-19-18-…-3-2-1, then first the normal race is definately not as important (as it awards just 5 more points for triple the distance), secondly you risk having championships decided on Fridays/Saturdays by a 100km qualifying session, if the winner gets 20pts and the other contender retires and gets 0-5pts.

        So to sum up, sprint races are a very complicated issue to get it right and it would be better if F1 didn’t bother with them.

        1. Yeah obviously championship points all the way down the field could not just be added on for the sprint alone, especially not with keeping the current system for the main race. And it’s not well balanced to have the scale of points completely linear from last to first. What I meant was that I want to see a points system that covers all cars in the main race. Keeping with whole numbers that would require the winner to get a fair bit more than todays 25, which in turn could open up for giving out a bit more points for the sprint. But it absolutely must be well balanced against the main race, as in, at most it should be worth a third as much.
          That aside, if the sprint race only awards the top finishers with championship points the rest of the field must be rewarded with something else. In the system they are trying now that would be grid position for the main race. But it could be for example some form of advantage during qualifying, or something crazy like deciding the order of the teams in the pit lane or free wind tunnel hours. Anything that makes it worthwhile at all to gain another position on track.

    2. +1 I thought of using that same score for the sprint races. Now, I’m sure that I saw this top 3 score in sprint race qualy somewhere… was it in Formula E? I don’t know…

  13. G (@unklegsif)
    26th July 2021, 14:18

    I’m sure there are bigger brains out there that will shoot this idea down in flames – if so, shoot away…. however

    What if on Xnumber of specifically pre-chosen rounds (if it does go ahead next season), you have FP1 and Qualy on Friday, FP2 and Sprint on Saturday but the results of the Sprint don’t interfere with the starting grid, but drivers are awarded points for each place they make up in the Sprint, from start to finish? So, start in 12th but finish in 6th? = 6points, but then you still start on Sunday in 12th

    Oh, hang on, that increasingly discriminates the further up the grid you go… mmmmmm?
    It would discourage fast cars from qualifying badly to then make up places and get points in the Sprint, as they’d still start in the same grid slot

  14. Extreme E has a lively weekend format that is very engaging. It could be a source of inspiration for F1. Here is what I would propose:


    Shoot-out race of 10 laps for those who qualified in Q3 to determine the bottom half of the grid. Followed by a Semi-Final 2 race of 10 laps for those who qualified in Q2. And Finally a 10 lap Semi-Final 1 race for those who qualified in Q1. Each race is run separately.

    The winner of the Semi-Final 2 race starts the GP on P10. The one who has finished last in the Semi-Final 1 starts the GP on P15.

    A positive would be that every part of the grid gets its part of the spotlight on Saturday. It works really well in Formula E as the shoot-out race tends to create its own drama.

  15. Sam Crawford
    26th July 2021, 14:27

    Shorten the race weekend to 2 days, Saturday morning practice, 90 mins. Qualifying on Saturday afternoon, then the race on Sunday with a 15 minute warm up before it to check everything is working.

    Sprint Qualifying/Sprint Races aren’t needed, and by cutting the day down to 2 there’s less strain on the cars, teams and logistics of fitting in more races.

    Hell, you could have a calender of 30 races, 2 days each event, and it would be less days total than the current season of 23 races of 3 day events

    1. G (@unklegsif)
      26th July 2021, 14:32

      horten the race weekend to 2 days

      Promoters are NEVER going to go for that as their gate receipts would be instantly hit, not without a considerable reduction in hosting fee which in turn reduces total income to FOM…

    2. Yes , two days would be ideal, especially with the triple headers that are to be expected.

      I agree with the general sentiment that Qualifying should retain its historic meaning. This would not signal the end of the Sprint race however, as it could be part of the Main race. It would be akin the two playing halves we have with European football:

      First half: a 30 minute sprint race with no pitstops.
      Second half: a 90 minute race with pit stops.

      This way the cars carry less fuel in both races, making them lighter in the process.

  16. Jockey Ewing
    26th July 2021, 14:51

    They could have an entirely separate Sprint championship, which not interferes with any stats and with the grid of the GP.

    The races of the spint championship could be held on the GP weekends, and the sprint championship results could award sprint championship points, and significant amount of money which could be used for the cars’ development as a real reward. The money could be so much to be really rewarding. I mean if there are sprint races at every weekend, then it should award a large proportion of the money available, while not interfering with the regular championship.

    This way they could call it a race. If the new aero package is a large enough step to produce close racing the sprint races can be exciting enough. Meanwhile this way as apart from the distance it not differs too much from the racing that F1 can produce, the risk of it being much worse than what we have already seen was really low. Not hard to find self justification this way.

    Meanwhile I not liked the idea of sprint races in the current format, and I considered the planned reverse grid races to be something what is not suitable for the top tiers (non feeder and professional levels) of open wheel racing.

  17. Surely there would be little to no incentive for the bottom 4-5 teams (or even more) to try in the sprint race if it didn’t affect race starting positions. It would be unlikely they would score points, so they may aswell save engine, parts or treat the session as a Test session of sorts. There needs to be an incentive for everyone for it to be exciting

    1. Exactly, every position gained by anyone in any race situation must be rewarded every time.

  18. Then we’re just back to double points weekend again… no thanks

    I kinda liked the Silverstone format, although there should be zero points awarded and no park ferme between sprint & race. The prize for Saturday is pole for Sunday

  19. I’m still for a Sprint Cup (on Fridays).
    Points for all drivers 20-1 towards the Sprint Cup (not WDC)
    Reverse grid based on previous sprint race.
    End of season Sprint Cup standing ‘translated’ into normal single race points (winner =25, 28, 15, etc).

    Leave quali as is on Saturday to determine GP grid.

  20. Friday:

    FP1 – 90 min
    SPRINT QUALIFYING – 30 min, every 10 min 5 slowest times get set. Keep it moving and “sprinted”

    SPRINT RACE – 10 laps/50KM. Silverstones distance was too long, let them fight it out and snip it before it gets stale
    GP QUALIFYING – Q1, Q2, Q3 as is tradition


  21. Qualifying seems to be Leclerc’s biggest strength so it doesn’t surprise me he would rather keep the old format.

  22. If it is for qualifying, points shouldn’t be included. It reminded me of nascar stage racing. Will F1 go to a playoff format also? Even so, not even nascar includes points for qualifying position. With points, the sprint race winds up being a real race. It’s not qualifying. It is for the end title. I hate to say it, but it looks like the powers to be don’t know the difference between qualifying to race, and the actual race. Too bad they are trying it when we finally have an awesome points race going on.

    1. What if the sprint race happens just for those who finished 11-20 in the previous race?? or the Friday qualifying??

  23. Qualifying Friday, usual format
    Sprint Race Saturday, reverse grid!
    Race Sunday using Qualifying grid

    …. am I crazy? Think it would just need a points tweak to Saturday.

    1. Mark McCubbin
      27th July 2021, 18:17

      Yep, I was thinking exactly the same thing. That way we get to try out a reverse grid race (which I actually think would be pretty cool – especially as a shorter race without pitstops), but the main race is kept as normal so no one can complain that the main race has been ruined.

      The sprint could use the top 6 point scoring system that we used to have (10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1) – the winner won’t get an actual GP win, but would still get a handful of points. It would certainly be a good chance for the lower grid teams to get some points on the board, but they would still have to work for it, so any points would still feel special. I would much rather see this than Indy cars scoring system of everyone getting points for everything!

      I might even go a bit further and say the sprint race could actually use the track in the reverse layout as well (obviously only for tracks which could support that).

      It seems that the key points to take away from the sprint race at Silverstone was that we liked the extra action of a competitive session on each day, we liked an extra race, but we don’t want to change the qualifying or the main race. So the sprint just has to be seen as a bonus of something different and extra.

      1. Yes, bringing back that old points system for the Sprint would be perfect. I’d be incredibly excited if this ever happened.
        Reverse tracks would be fun, but I doubt many are designed for that in terms or kerb placement, barriers, tires, etc.

  24. Mark McCubbin
    28th July 2021, 14:23

    It’s unlikely most tracks could be reversed, but some may be able to support it with some safety tweaks. (I actually think that Monaco would be better in reverse, and it looks like there’s only a couple of corners which would need altering for that). If not reverse, then a different layout could be used. Bahrain outer circuit was actually pretty good, so that would be perfect for a sprint race.

    Staging sprints at tracks which only support alternative layouts would give the tracks a bit more incentive to provide that. They would want the extra day of higher priced tickets.

    But regardless of layout, reverse grid sprint gets my vote!

Comments are closed.