Six sprint qualifying races and testing changes agreed by F1 Commission for 2022

2021 F1 Season

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An increase in the number of sprint qualifying events and revised testing rules were agreed by the F1 Commission today, RaceFans understands.

The FIA issued a statement confirming three major topics were discussed at the meeting: the 2022 F1 calendar, revised rules in response to the washed-out Belgian Grand Prix and the future of the sprint qualifying format.

The FIA’s statement said the commission was presented with a report on the first two sprint qualifying events, which were held at Silverstone and Monza. Compiling feedback from “a large number of stakeholders” the statement described the reports contents as “positive about the sprint concept.”

“Elements relating to potential future sprint events and the associated regulatory framework” will be discussed after the Brazilian Grand Prix, the statement added,

However RaceFans understands the commission also agreed plans to hold six sprint qualifying events during the 2022 F1 season. This and other agreed points will go before the World Motor Sport Council on Friday for approval.

Further changes approved by the commission include condensing F1’s four-day event schedule – including the Thursday ‘media day’ – to three.

Alterations to the testing rules in order to facilitate next year’s schedule were also approved. The minimum time between the end of testing and first race has been adjusted to permit a reduced gap of eight days, and tests of up to five consecutive days have been agreed.

A draft calendar of 23 races was presented to the commission, which was advised of the uncertain state of the Chinese Grand Prix. The Imola circuit in Italy is expected to take its place, though the Chinese round will be held as a reserve event should another grand prix fall from the schedule next year.

Teams’ representatives were also briefed and updated on 2025 power unit regulations during the commission meeting.

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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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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74 comments on “Six sprint qualifying races and testing changes agreed by F1 Commission for 2022”

  1. Should we be surprised…

    1. utterly shocked

    2. I just eye rolled so hard I think I hurt myself

  2. I don’t like Sprint Qualifying, but if a lot of the various stakeholders do, then so be it, that is the way to do things. The teams are clearly fine with it since it requires a majority of them to approve it for next season.

    1. @yaru As well it will be interesting to see what changes they may make to SQ, and I do think that even left alone it should be more exciting with the new cars…less processional one would think.

      1. You have real faith in the new cars. The same guys have been working on this problem for 20 years. It isn’t going to be fixed this time or any other while the cars are dependent on downforce and creating a wake to annoy those behind them. This is just window dressing so Brawn and his buddies can continue to line their pockets. I’ll concede I’m wrong when DRS is not needed anymore.

        1. @darryn ‘This is just window dressing so Brawn and his buddies can continue to line their pockets.” Ridiculous comment.

          “The same guys have been working on this problem for 20 years.” Actually no it has been an unprecedented and focused effort by Brawn’s team, separate from the teams but with the teams’ input as an addition. That is far different than the half-hearted measures that were attempted by the teams themselves (foxes in charge of the hen house) that were never followed through on in any kind of way that was going to have lasting and meaningful effect.

          “It isn’t going to be fixed this time or any other while the cars are dependent on downforce and creating a wake to annoy those behind them.” So you are saying the only thing that would work is to have cars with no wings, nor tunnels, and somehow create no wake? Ridiculous. Of course the cars are going to create downforce, and of course they are going to create a wake. The key with the changes that have been made is that the amount of wake will be diminished, as will the dependence on clean air, such that what wake the cars do encounter will not be significant enough to destroy drivers’ tires as well as their confidence in the performance of the car while in close quarters with other cars.

          1. @robbie I truly hope Brawn is right but the Brawn we have to listen to is not the same Brawn I remembered when he was working on F1 teams. For the past years the press talks he gives sounds more like a company man staying in line preaching all the fantastics things they do.
            I agree @Darryn and @yaru , I’m not a fan of sprint qualifying and serious doubt the new regs is the going to be the equivalent of a silver bullet that Brawn keeps stating it as.

            We’re just going to have to see for ourselves firsthand (next season), I’ll owe my apologies to Brawn if he right, but if he’s wrong and stuck with same issues, then what?

            I am a very strongly opposed to sprint qualifying, it’s not a true equal footing measure of racing and instead creates a false narration of what true F1 racing is nor shows drivers & teams abilities. It’s a cheap band-aid in an attempt to spice things up for viewers who find motorsport racing a bit boring.

  3. As rubbish as this ‘news’ is, I think in time the sprints will be shown to be mostly processional, and I will hold on to that small hope that they will not last forever. Just please don’t award significant points for them, that would really devalue the Grand Prix.

    I suppose we will never be able to trust the word ‘trial’ in relation to any rule change again.

    1. Well it was a trial, and a lot of the stakeholders liked it so they are doing more.

      1. @yaru – It as a trial but they weren’t trialling what they lead us to believe…. They’ve essentially trialled whether sprint races or FP3 get the most views on TV and whether it makes it easier to sell tickets on the Friday by having qualifying instead of two practice sessions. Unsurprisingly, the answer to that is yes – I think we all could have worked that one out without even doing a single sprint weekend….

        They made it seem as though the trial involved seeing whether fans liked it, whether drivers liked it, whether the sprint races were interesting or whether it improved the sport. All of that is irrelevant because the people who matter are the TV companies, the sponsors and the people who pay to host races. They’re all happy so it’s going ahead.

        1. @petebaldwin While at the same time, if people were turned off and were literally tuning out, “the TV companies, the sponsors and the people who pay to host races” wouldn’t be “all happy,” so one must wonder if they are on to something. It’s well within it for “the people who matter” to want to sell more tickets on Friday. Why wouldn’t they want to do that?

          1. As you say, ‘if people were literally tuning out, the TV companies etc. would not be all happy.’

            In a three-race ‘trial,’ people are not going to tune out. When people believe there are only going to be three sprint races and then they are going to be evaluated at the end, they will want to watch the races to see if they like them or not. If they don’t like them, which I believe is true of the majority, they will be more likely to tune out when six more are introduced for the next season. That is why I believe not listening to the fans is a mistake, because it could lead to fewer viewers in the future, even if that is not evident immediately. At least that is what I am holding onto, as I do believe the majority will be processional, purely because drivers are not likely to risk as much in an overtake if it’s for one place on the grid. Maybe they were quite feisty in the novelty of Silverstone, but that decreased in Monza and will most likely continue next season.

          2. @robbie this is exactly why I took the decision not to watch any of the sprint qualifying this year. It would be hypocritical of me to say I don’t like the idea, it shouldn’t be in F1… Whilst simultaneously watching it and adding to the viewing figures.

            So that’s 6 more I won’t be watching next year which is very frustrating but I’m sticking to my guns.

        2. hey’ve essentially trialled whether sprint races or FP3 get the most views on TV and whether it makes it easier to sell tickets on the Friday by having qualifying instead of two practice sessions.

          Doesn’t that then prove that fans like it? They are willing to invest their TV watching time or spend more money on tickets.
          Much more meaningful than a vote on a website (like this one).

          1. More people watch it now, when it is new. That doesn’t mean that will continue in the next few years when they continue to be pointless processions (as I predict). The only way to find out if it is a success is to ask the fans, as if they don’t want it they won’t watch in the next few years. Maybe not on a website like this, but certainly on the official F1 website that I assume almost all fans use.

          2. In my business I take actual sales always over polls and votes. The problems with those (and even focus groups) is that you get the input from a vocal few, rather than the (predicted) actions from the money spending majority.

            And if people stop watching/attending in a couple of years as you predict, then they will simply change the format or drop it altogether.

          3. I have watched both sprint races and have enjoyed neither, however I will still begrudgingly watch the third. Not because I expect it to be better, but because it has relevance to the race itself. Although it will likely be processional, there is still a chance that a championship contender or a favourite driver may have an incident that puts them to the back of the grid.

            It is similar to me not enjoying the majority of Monaco races, but still insist on watching them every year as it will impact the championship if a driver does have a DNF.

    2. @f1frog Lol and here I just suggested above that they should be less processional with the new cars. I too don’t see the need for them to offer significant points, or at least not enough to ‘devalue’ the race, and in general I think all the points are key, so for me whatever they do points-wise for SQ it doesn’t mean the drivers and teams won’t go for maximum points on Sunday as well. So in that sense I don’t generally buy the concept that SQ devalues or takes away from Sunday’s races.

      As to the word trial, I don’t agree with your sentiment because this has indeed been a trial, as opposed to it being dictated for all races or what have you such as has been done with various qualifying formats thrust upon them/us in the past only in some cases to have to have them revoked. To me diplomatically agreeing to the SQ to begin with, and then only doing it at 3 events, is a trial, and the fact that it will be 6 next year is at least a far cry from what many have likely feared, that being a permanent, every race weekend thing.

      1. In Formula 2, the sprint race is worth 15 points, and the feature race 25, so I am assuming it would be worth at least ten if it were made a standalone event. In my opinion, the reason this devalues the Grand Prix is not because the drivers wouldn’t be going for the maximum points on Sunday (they would), it is because three sprint race victories are suddenly worth more than one Grand Prix victory. And I feel this means the Grand Prix would mean less.

      2. Here’s the thing. If they are driving for position in the main race, why should they have points on top of that?

        The extra points as an additonal incentive would only make sense if the lower team treated it as a sacrificial race
        doing everything to get those extra points.

        Here the senario would be a team like williams doing the sprint in engine mode 11+ at a potential cost to the
        engine for the points, at a potential cost to the main race setup / performance.

        In other words i can see a sprint mode for the engine, because its shorter race and presents the lower teams with
        a way to get points they ordinary would not see.

        Is this senario likely?

  4. I’m sure the increase in sprint event is following ‘overwhelming public support’..

    1. The public? What makes you think their opinion matters in this?

      1. @ppparkinson9 It’s irony following comments from Liberty how the sprint races had been a hit with the public when everyone knows the opposite is true

  5. Coventry Climax
    13th October 2021, 16:38

    ‘Sprint Qualifications’, in short: ‘SQ’s’, pronounced as ‘sucks’.

  6. José Lopes da Silva
    13th October 2021, 16:42

    “a large number of $tak€hold€r$”

  7. Has anyone done a calculation for the extra time on the engine due to these ‘sprint’ races?
    Is it more or less the same as a normal qualifying session, or should the extra wear on the
    engines, by these extra races, not mean an extra engine change without penalties?

    1. Depends on how much running they’d have done in a practice session, as that is what the sprint replaces.
      The ‘normal’ qualifying session is still used.

  8. The Premier League has 380 games in total, NHL has 82 games per season per team, MLB has 162 games for each of the 30 teams.

    F1 has 23 races. Liberty want more.

    Sprint races are not great as a way to make a grid, so how about this:

    Double Race weekends.

    Friday = 2 qualifying sessions for the two races.
    Saturday = Grand Prix 1. Full points full distance – a proper race.
    Sunday = Grand Prix 2. Full points full distance – a proper race.

    Ideally Sunday’s Grand Prix would have a different layout – I’m thinking Bahrain style or at least different tyres. But many tracks could run a different layout.

    So we as fans end up with:
    – twice as many races
    – twice as many qualifying sessions
    – No false grids
    – No practice sessions

    Teams have no extra weekends, no more miles to transport or no further distances to drive the cars.

    Liberty get 2 x the number of races.

    1. I’m on board with this proposal for any circuit where different configurations are possible. Maybe the French GP would finally be an interesting one with the myriad of configurations Paul Ricard offers. Qualifying would need to be run in different track configurations on Friday possibly making it a logistical challenge given the short time-frame and support series’ use of the circuit.

    2. I’m all in for this.

    3. Sounds really good. Honestly don’t see any issues – more races cannot be a bad thing. How can anyone really say you’d rather see 2 practice sessions than an extra race?

    4. They can’t just switch layouts between two sessions on the same day and neither overnight. Safety (barriers, kerbs etc), timing sensors, marshall posts, white lines, grandstands… some or all of them cannot be switched over for the new layout. (and then back…) Of course there are tracks where it may work but would not be worth doing it.

      Oh why don’t you also compare an autosport event with the likes of tennis, darts or snooker if you are comparing with football, baseball, basketball? There are 675 matches in Wimbledon alone!!!!!!!! (127 of them were men’s singles main draw matches)

    5. The problem with this is that most fans would not want to watch two full length Grands Prix in one weekend. To really get invested in F1 you have to watch every race, but this is not the case for practice sessions. (I usually watch FP3 and always watch qualifying, but only watch FP1-2 during a holiday, as they are on weekdays). So this would lead to many fans either dropping away from the sport entirely, or becoming ‘casual fans.’ And even those who really love F1 and always want to watch both races, as I would, have families who would not be happy with them spending even more time watching F1 at the weekend, including two recorded qualifying sessions (not the same as watching live) on Friday night.

      And secondly, you can have too much of a good thing. Having that many Grands Prix, particularly in the same weekend, would diminish the excitement of it. Like how if there is a favourite meal that you only have once a month it is special, but if you had it every day it wouldn’t be. There is something really special about sitting down for the start of a Grand Prix, and it definitely would not be the same if you had another one to watch tomorrow, or had watched one yesterday, every single time.

      The format of FP1 and FP2 on Friday, FP3 and qualifying on Saturday, and one full-length race on Sunday is absolutely perfect for Formula 1, and I wish it would stay like that.

      1. Exactly, well said.

        Thier approach appears to suffer from the “fallacy of aggregation”, that each additional event they can cram in, will provide the same extra value to the audience, the sponsors and the teams, which I don’t believe is the case, especially in the long term. For me I’d prefer less events, less chances for teams to score points, this multiplies the the value of each race and increases my anticipation and interest in wanting to see the next one. Sometimes it is the white space and time to reflect between events that creates the tension.

        When your hero or team has a bad day in F1 now it can be erased in a week with the next event. I remember the long wait between the end of one season and the start of the next, the tension and build-up to testing, then the wait from testing to the first GP of the year, it made each event special. Now we get so many it becomes a blur and almost impossible to devote the time needed to get deeply invested.

        Unfortunately I feel the $ will come from the “my driver is better than your driver” audience and those of us that prefer the detail, the innovation, the tension and enjoy savouring each event will become the minority:(

        1. Good points both, but the reason to compare with other sports is because that’s what Liberty are probably doing.

          Ideally I’d love to go back to the days when we had a much cheaper more amateur sport. Read about Tyrrell and other entrants in the 1970s – much simpler, cheaper and more competitive times.

          Also I don’t get the idea that it’s perfect now. Number of races etc. In the 1950s there were 6 races – sports change.

    6. I’m from the U.S. Long events like F1, soccer, rugby don’t play well in the our market. All of our popular tv sports are short bursts of action – golf, basketball, hockey, football. Even baseball is a new ‘event’ with each pitch. NASCAR now runs several races broken into ‘stages’ and run at fewer laps with the total equaling the original race distance. The teams stop between stages and then line up and race again with each stage based on the previous result. US football fans will watch 3 or 4 college football games on saturday and then 3 or 4 pro games on sunday. These are different teams so there’s ‘variety’ to the day. U.S. Fans will watch but they want variety and the possibility of ‘action’ all the time. This is the market Liberty are trying to woo. I’m different. I like bike racing, F1, track and field.

      Having the same drivers race twice in a weekend would be boring to me unless the tracks could be made completely different – one high speed, one low. I like the anticipation of the two week break.

      Issues like crashes, engine wear, etc. would probably be amplified if there are two races a weekend. I think the drivers might love it – they love racing.

      I have wondered if the answer isn’t simpler. What if the point system was changed? If F1 gave points down to 19th. Winner gets 19 points and so on down to 1 point for 19th place. Team points are the same. I’ve wondered if this would make the racing more intense as drivers and teams would be separated by single points instead of the huge gaps now. 11th place would suddenly be a lot more important than 16th place. 7th even more so.

      Also, that so many tracks seem to require overtaking by the first corner on the first lap is a genuine problem with the tracks being used. if the tracks can’t be adjusted (I know there are a lot of limitations) then make anyone found guilty of causing a crash on the first lap ineligible to race in the next race. It’s really frustrating to have so many first corner/ lap crashes.

      Just some thoughts. Enjoying the discussions.

  9. And the drivers? What about the toil on the driver?

    Maybe the team could also run to 4 drivers.. an A & B team, sharing the same cars.
    with the points going into the same championship pot.

    1. The drivers are the least of the problems, they love to race.

    2. If you’re worried about the drivers in my double race weekend concept, then yes they would have two races but overall no more miles, as P1,2 and 3 would not be held.

    3. Disagree on the driver toil part, but like idea of 4 drivers, particularly if for some races (not all)

  10. Can’t write in words how angry I’m for the numer 156435 stupid thing done by Liberty in order to destroy my favourite sport

  11. I don’t think the additional SQ races are any real surprise. Feedback on them was not overwhelmingly positive but neither was it especially negative. They will potentially bring in more race weekend attendees and more TV viewers so they were always very likely to continue after the trial. I am just quite relieved there are only going to be 6 of them. That’s enough.

    If they have to continue my personal preference would be that they are a stand alone thing and don’t affect the qualifying for the main event on Sunday. I think something similar to the F2 race weekend format for 2022 is not a bad idea. The Sprint races being held on their own as a Friday or Saturday event. They should be awarded points but in quite low numbers so that they don’t have too distorting an effect on the Championships. Possibly points for just the first 8 places i.e. 10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1

    1. If they have to continue my personal preference would be that they are a stand alone thing and don’t affect the qualifying for the main event on Sunday.

      For me a separate Sprint Cup would be very welcome.
      And they can award points at the end of the season as if it were 1 single GP.

    2. Coventry Climax
      13th October 2021, 22:48

      Being relieved there are ‘just’ six for 2022 is being very naïve. It’s double of what should have been none.
      Don’t be surprised if we end up with ‘Sucks’ for every weekend: 12 for 2022, 24 for 2023.

  12. Stephen Higgins
    13th October 2021, 18:45

    Six too many.

  13. Watched the first one and definitely skipped the Monza one. Just read the news and that was it. But I’m not a $takeholder, neither a steak holder nor a skate holder.

  14. Liberty is desperate to find any way to get more TV viewers and paying customers at the tracks on Sat. They simply don’t care about how it affects the overall racing. There’s not much more to it than that. I wasted my time on the first two Sprint races and I won’t do that again.

    1. @partofthepuzzle We all knew with American owners what would come

      1. I’m not sure that “Americans” has anything to do with it. I think that any big company, based anywhere, that didn’t have a background in F1 would probably behave the same.

        1. @partofthepuzzle Maybe, but with them it was inevitable there would be show. Remember the cringefest that was the driver ‘staredown’ (or whatever it was called) in Austin that time? You knew something else would come along in the same vein, and here it is.

    2. So let’s have more races – 2 x proper GPs per weekend (see above for details).

      There is a lot of negativity against SQ but we all love races?

      1. We all love races when they have time to develop into something interesting. The sprint racing just takes the worst part of a GP and gives us only that. Including the annoying replays of the start while the actual race is developing.

    3. Liberty is desperate to find any way to get more TV viewers and paying customers at the tracks on Sat.

      What’s wrong with that?
      And if it turns into something like monster trucks or comical wrestling, I’ll be the first to stop watching.

      1. Coventry Climax
        13th October 2021, 22:51

        OK. Bye.
        I’ll join you shortly, I’m afraid.

        1. I doubt it will turn into something like monster wrestling.
          There are too many successful popular (real) sports which do not require gimmicks.

  15. Ugh.

  16. Nooooooooooo.

  17. This was always going to happen. Liberty just know the game. You start small, and allow the fanbase not to be overly negative. Everyone will accept 3, then 6…. eventually this leads to reverse grid races, and probably more ‘spec’ cars. Liberty want complete ownership and to get as mcuh money as possible.

    Sprint qualifying is rubbish, but if more people are watching…. then there is no debate. Expect more changed in 2023, this is just the start

  18. Another reason why TV viewing figures may be unreliable is that this is arguably the best championship battle since 2012. I watched both sprints but I doubt I would have if this was a typical Hamilton dominance year. So high attendance this year might not entail high attendance in future years.

    1. Coventry Climax
      13th October 2021, 22:54

      You really expect people with an interest in $ only to have a long term view? You’re kidding.

    2. It’s a good point.

      Plus sprints will just increase a dominant team’s dominance, making the championship fight even more predictable and dull, and let’s face it, F1’s history says there will usually be a team dominating.

  19. They only have 2 options to make it more exciting:
    1. Cut to a 2 day format:
    – 2hr Practice on Saturday Morning
    – Usual Quali format on Saturday afternoon
    – Grand Prix on Sunday or
    2. More Valuable 3 day Weekend with 2 Qualifying sessions (no Sprint Race):
    – 90min Practice Friday Lunchtime
    – Q1, Q2, Q3 Knockout on Friday Evening
    – 90min Test for Young Drivers on Saturday Morning
    – 1 Lap shoot out Qualifying with Fastest from Friday running first on Saturday and so on (should mix up the grid).
    – Grand Prix on Sunday

    Option 2 is still gimmicky but less than the Sprint race format and having Young Driver tests on the pointless Saturday morning session means teams collect less data and the race drivers get less Practice time. Theoretically mixing up the grid, fans get more flat out running and there is a Promoter selling point on all 3 days (effectively Pre-Qualifying, 1 shot Qualifying and the Grand Prix).

  20. No real surprises here as many have already said.

    Given that there’s a trend in pretty much all sport now to change the rules to provide “more action”, not to mention more space for advertising, I’ll be interested in seeing how long it takes before some weekends devolve into 3 “sprint” races that replace completely the longer version and retains just a few as “traditional” weekends.

    I’m just waiting for the marketing guru’s to come up with some new rules to spice up the “world game” so that there’s big numbers of goals scored just because they think that’ll make it more exciting. Tis the way of the world unfortunately.

  21. Has everyone forgotten that Ross said basically that “younger” F1 viewers don’t want to spend 2 hours watching a GP on Sundays, hence the sprint races.

    1. The young ‘crypto’ crowd

  22. Well since they are pushing ahead with it I’ll simply not bother watching them, And with 23 races weekends next year maybe i’ll just start skipping some sprint weekends altogether.

    Since they are taking F1 in a direction I dislike i’m just going to start lowering my engagement & if that results in me eventually turning off completely well as much as it kills me to say this…. so be it.

    I watched the 2 sprints we’ve had open to have my mind changed about them but I came away disliking the format more than I did beforehand because I just didn’t like how that format affected the feel & flow of the rest of the weekend. Even just looking at the sprint itself, I struggled to get that invested in either of them because they lack many of the elements I enjoy about the GP. Things like how strategy, management & tactics that play out over the course of a GP.

    I also don’t see why some race weekends should be more valuable in terms of points than others, How is that really any different to Abu Dhabi offering double points in 2014? It’s making some race weekends more valuable, more important & more special than others which I really don’t like.

  23. Well then the 2022 season just became a 17 race season for me.

    I won’t be watching any weekend that includes a gimmick race. Vote with your wallet as they say.

    #LibertyOut! #NoToSprints #NoToGimmicks #F1NotIndycar+ #ThisIsntNapcar

    1. @roger-ayles you beat me to it.

      Was just about to post that they’ve made it easy for me to select which out of the 23 races I’ll be skipping. 23 is too many for me anyway and o have no intention of watching any more of these sprint abominations.

      1. I am with both of you as that is exactly what will happen for me too, they are achieving what I never thought would happen, but at this point I am too fed up of us giving our opinions only for them to be ignored and insist on taking the sport in the direction they want, so time to speak the only language they seem to understand.

    2. Have you done the sequel to your angriest rant yet? I haven’t seen Part 2 of your biggest rant after the Monza sprint qualifying.
      You need to do a Part 3 of your angriest rant after the “Brazilian” Grand Prix.

  24. I’ve never known a sport to ask the opinions of the fans as much as F1 and then do the exact opposite.

  25. I hope Sprint Qualifying will not decide the race grid.

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