Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monza, 2021

Sprint qualifying format needs changes if more are to be held – Wolff

RaceFans Round-up

Posted on

| Written by

In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says changes should be considered to the sprint qualifying format if it is to be used more widely during the 2022 F1 season.

In brief

Wolff: “fine line” to be balanced with sprint qualifying points

Speaking in response to a question from RaceFans, Wolff said he understood why Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali wanted to pursue more sprint events.

“Stefano will know best from a commercial standpoint, I think he’s an expert,” said Wolff. “He has sat where I sit and now he’s on the other side and all the logic speaks for, from a commercial standpoint, more sprint races because you just generate another interesting session. One on Friday, one Saturday and one on Sunday. So I think I get that.”

However, Wolff said the points format for the extra Saturday races – which currently pay three, two and one for the drivers who finish first, second and third respectively – needs to be reviewed.

“If we were to do more then maybe the format overall needs to be tweaked. How many points are attributed, is it really three, two, one or should it go back to 10th place, without undervaluing the grand prix? So that’s a fine line, you need to need to balance.”

While Wolff previously said the number of sprint qualifying races should be capped at four, speaking last weekend he admitted the commercial argument for more was persuasive. “If Stefano says it creates just much more audiences and therefore, ability to monetise and create some special races, then I guess we need to follow his call.

“Then it’s about the old traditionalist in me that wants to have a grand prix on a Sunday at two or three o’clock. We just need to accept that maybe it needs the format tweak and have sprint races. So if it’s not four and not eight, maybe we will come out with six [events].”

As RaceFans reported yesterday, the F1 Commission has agreed a proposal to hold six sprint qualifying races next year. The FIA World Motor Sport Council will decide whether to approve the plan on Friday.

Hamilton “would have got to the end of the race” on starting intermediate tyres

Lewis Hamilton would have reached the end of Turkish Grand Prix on his original starting tyres, Mercedes technical director James Allison has said, though his lap times would have been drastically compromised.

“Would we still have had inflated tyres that would be capable of going around the track? Yes, in all likelihood, we would have got to the end of the race on one set of tyres, able to circulate without difficulty,” explained Allison in a video published by the team.

“Other cars did that. Ocon did that for example. And our car typically runs its rubber better than many of our competitors. So, yes, we would have got to the end of the race.”

Deteriorating lap times, however, persuaded the team against trying a non-stop strategy. “The question is, how quick would we have been? And the evidence there is pretty clear: We would have been very slow,” Allison said.

“The tyre was using its rubber throughout the entire race and towards the end as the track approached dry but never quite got there, than that wear accelerated. And Lewis’s lap times were starting to get worse lap by lap by lap and while he would have made it to the end of the race, the pace would have been quite dismal by the time he got there.”

Williams commits to become carbon-positive by 2030

Williams has announced it will not only offset and reduce its carbon emissions but become net carbon positive by 2030.

Carbon positivity means actively removing more CO2 from the atmosphere than is released as a consequence of Williams’ operations, at its factory, trackside and in logistics terms.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Comment of the day

After the FIA F1 Commission is understood to have approved six sprint qualifying events for 2022, Depailler suggests an alternative system.

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 = Two qualifying sessions for the two races.
Saturday = Grand prix one. Full points full distance – a proper race.
Sunday = Grand prix two. 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 twice the number of races.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Magnificent Geoffrey, Pablopete80, Lyn Dromey, Russ Mckennett and Jack Nagle!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in motorsport

  • 20 years ago today Michael Schumacher won the final race of the season at Suzuka. Mika Hakkinen and Jean Alesi made their final starts, as did the Prost and Benetton teams – the latter is now Alpine.

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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

49 comments on “Sprint qualifying format needs changes if more are to be held – Wolff”

  1. COTD: Would teams be allowed to bring spare cars in case of major accident in the first race that could prevent them from competing in the second?

    1. They already do – it’s just not assembled.
      That’s been an area of confusion for me for a long time – they are still taking a full extra car worth of parts (and more) to every event, but it’s taking up the transport space and weight of 3 or 4 assembled cars…

      1. I hope they get a extra engine for this extra races but if someone crashes in race 1 i don’t think they can buildup a new car before race 2…

        1. It’s been a long time since a qualifying crash has resulted in a race DNS. No different.

          As for extra engines…
          Firstly I don’t think there should be a limit – use more if you want, but it comes out of your budget.
          Secondly (and perhaps conversely) I don’t think there’s any need for additional engines as it’s roughly about the same amount of track time, just used in a different way.
          F1 has always been about conservation anyway, to some degree.

  2. COTD proposal sounds great! That’d be a season of survival of the fittest! 6 intense Grand prix distances in 3 weeks for those triple header rounds will take their toll by the end! Sadly I fear the reason for sprint races is cause the powers that be (ie Liberty…) think a Grand prix by itself is too long and boring to attract new fans…so I can’t see them adding more of the same!

    1. I’m honestly flabbergasted by comments like these and the CotD.

      I thought people were against Sprint Races because a Grand Prix is a GP, and the Sprint is too short.
      Now many prefer a 2nd Grand Prix (how does that work?) during the same weekend. If anything goes against the DNA of GP racing is not having a GP anymore but two equal long races.

      I remain cautiously optimistic about a Sprint (shorter) Race which will be less strategic and more full on racing. And if by chance or design it offers more often the faster cars at the back it would only be a plus to me.
      The whole ‘setting the grid’ part they can (and should) get rid of. Just make it a Sprint Cup on it’s own and award some points (I suggest full GP points but down to 20th) for the final Sprint Cup standing. This way all participants have an incentive to ‘sprint’ (attack and defend) during those events.

      1. I think they must decided in extenting the sprint to full race OR reduce current format to lets say 10 laps. But i think they want to remove practice because selling pratice is much less profitable then 2 qualfiers on friday and a race each day…

        But the second race run on a different layout is a very good idea!

        1. But the second race run on a different layout is a very good idea!

          Still don’t get that.
          It would not be a Grand Prix anymore but Grands Prix.
          And I, for one, want to see something different; a race between these cars in which they go constantly full out and try to overtake all times (not sure if that is 10laps or 100km).

          1. And I, for one, want to see something different; a race between these cars in which they go constantly full out and try to overtake all times (not sure if that is 10laps or 100km).

            We saw that in the Monza sprint race. A race where every car is on the same tyre and essentially drives flat out results in a procession because there isn’t a big enough pace delta to even attempt an overtake. Silverstone sprint race was similar, though at least some cars chose a different strategy option, and I expect Brazil sprint race will be more of the same.

            It remains to be seen whether the 2022 cars will be able to follow each other closely enough that they can race effectively on equal tyres, which would go some way to addressing this problem.

          2. We saw that in the Monza sprint race. A race where every car is on the same tyre and essentially drives flat out results in a procession because there isn’t a big enough pace delta to even attempt an overtake.

            They didn’t race flat out. Many drivers seemed content with their (next day’s grid) position. That was disappointing, but maybe to be expected.
            For positions 5-10 there was no points to be won, and for all of them the risk of misjudging (Perez) an overtake attempt would be more hurtful than gaining a single grid position.

            I also hope next year’s cars will help to increase the ability to overtake.
            And FIA could’ve played around with DRS this year (e.g. use anywhere anytime, or limit usage to 10 activations for all).

            If not setting the grid, but rather points for a Sprint Cup, such a Sprint Race would also help the competitiveness. Especially if the points are awarded to all 20 drivers (maybe as simple as 1-20), and then award championship points at the end of the season based on the final Sprint Cup standing.
            And I would introduce reverse grids for the Sprint race. First Sprint based on reverse grid of the GP proper, and all next Sprints based on finishing position of previous Sprint race (nobody will forsake points in one race to have a better starting position in the next).

          3. I don’t think offering points or any other incentive would make much difference. Cars will attempt to overtake if they are faster and have a reasonable chance to pull off a pass, but without a significant pace advantage and a track which offers some opportunities then they just aren’t able to. We can see that on the first lap of the sprint the cars take all the normal risks to try to gain positions, regardless of whether it will gain them points in the sprint or not. After that it settles down because there are no more opportunities. I’m sure after a few laps they do start managing their pace, but only because there are no longer realistic opportunities to overtake. Decreasing the distance wouldn’t make them drive flat out to any greater extent if they still can’t get close enough to attempt an overtake.

            Hamilton didn’t make much progress in Monza after his poor start, and if he was able to pass one car he probably would have been able to pass several and still have a good chance to win the main race on merit. The fact that he didn’t indicates that it wasn’t a question of incentive, but just the laws of physics preventing him getting close enough to try.

      2. I wasn’t being particularly serious. I think it would be rather absurd to have so many races! I love F1 as it is and see no need for change of format. Unfortunately Liberty doesn’t seem confident in selling the product as it is.

  3. How about a Driver Sprint Championship for the Saturday races? My thinking is: they’ve decided Sprints are here to stay so let’s make them do minimal impact to the WDC!

    Friday: one qualifying for both races.

    Saturday: Sprint Race.
    Offer more points but keep the driver points separate for a new Driver Sprint Championship (it’s something extra for Crypto to sponsor and stats-fans can count “Sprint Wins” as a new separate stat!). Make the team points still count to the main WCC so the teams are incentivised to take Saturday seriously.

    Sunday: Grand Prix.
    As is.

    1. This, 100% please

    2. Yes, this is the only thing that I would accept if there has to be sprint races.

      Of course teams and drivers would not be too invested in it, but the whole sprint idea is anyway not meant for sport so it’s Ok.

    3. Favorite format is also
      Friday: double Quali (normal GP first then “crazy quali” after, they could even experiment with that one).
      Saturday: Sprint race
      Sunday: Full GP
      Potentially with layout modification.

      Not sure I would turn on for every sprint but it creates a separate platform to promote/advertise. Hopefully they use it to get extra content for hard core fans, but mainly to attract new viewers to main event. If they keep GP behind pay walls, it’s hard to attract new audience. Sprint races should be more accessible and under different broadcast contract to make it most relevant.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        14th October 2021, 9:48

        @jeanrien – That’s the issue with that idea though… As you say, you’re not sure you’d tune it for it. I know I wouldn’t.

        Even though setting the grid with the sprint race is a bit ridiculous, if you want to follow the important sessions now, you have to watch qualifying, you have to watch the sprint race and you have to watch the race on Sunday. All 3 are important sessions. If you make the sprint races a separate competition, they can just be easily ignored and that’s what many will choose to do.

        If we’re going with what’s best for the sport, fans, drivers etc – drop sprint races completely.
        If we’re going with what’s best commercially, the sprint races have to be important to the Championship so that people feel they have to watch.

        1. @petebaldwin Good points, but it depends on target audience and goals. We might not be part of the ducks to be fed more and by adding more “relevant” sessions they might actually lose eyeballs.

          Currently I try to follow the most I can but I feel that if it continues to grow, I will have to drop more sessions (quali, sprint and races) and will become easier to switch into “watch when convenient” instead and decreasing my overall F1 consumption. They might lose engagement of reliable viewers by pushing it too far. Hence the suggestion to disconnect the sprint from main event with different targets audience, better chance to achieve different fidelity levels.

      2. @jeanrien

        That would also be a good opportunity for different qualifying rules for the sprint race. For example, by giving each driver a single solo lap to set their time (where they are sent out in reverse championship order).

        1. @aapje

          where they are sent out in reverse championship order

          I don’t understand why people always want them sent out in reverse championship order…..why give the fastest cars the best track conditions? Single lap quali would be much more interesting if they went out in championship order with the leader going first and everyone else trying to beat that time. Give the slower teams at the back the best track conditions.

          Not that I like single lap qualifying, it was awful when they tried it.

          1. @asanator

            It’s not intended to make qualifying more fun, but to increase the chance of getting a different order in the sprint race.

    4. LOL, that’s just silly!! This is F1, you know there are only 4 competetive cars and 2 drivers fighting for the WDC win.
      So either Verstappen or Hamilton would both, or one would win the real WDC and the other would win the Sprint WDC which would be a silly consolation prize giving no bragging rights.

  4. Seeing the demolition of le chalet makes me sad; it was a bucket list item for me to watch the race from there. I hope one day I still can get a view of eau rouge from there, whatever may be built in its place.

    1. They’re building a new grandstand there from what I read on Reddit.

    2. I was watching from there with my friend but with the grandstand a lot more people can enjoy that. I will miss my seat from there.

  5. From what has been shown here on prior occasions, the flow of money for any race under “normal” conditions is generally clear and straight forward.
    The hosting fee goes to F1, track side advertising to F1, broadcast rights payments, to F1. The only revenue stream for the track owner is from ticket sales.
    Whether this is the actual distribution, somehow I expect I have missed a few items, there is very little opportunity for the track owner to turn a profit with a regular 3 day event. Let alone a 2 day schedule as pitched not that long ago.
    The addition of the Sprint Race gives the track owner the opportunity to sell seats for 3 racing events over 3 days. Likely a significant boost in prices and numbers. Is it any wonder that with the extra $$$ available for both Liberty and the track owner, that Sprint Races are on the card. Yes, “everyone” is wild about Sprints.
    Expect more of these events, like it or not. The Buck doesn’t stop here.

    1. True but a by-product is that qualifying moves to a Friday at a time most European fans are still at work. Combined with the fact that the sprint race is dull, broadcasters aren’t going to like it.

  6. On CotD, I would never ever back two GPs at the same weekend, as I believe it makes no sense whatsoever. But I thoroughly enjoyed the prospect of a different track layout for sprints:

    – It does leave the GP untarnished.
    – It restores the due importance of Q sessions.

    It was such a smart and elegant insight that it irritates me seeing it at a fans forum than out of the mouth of those clowns in charge.

    Well done, Depailler!

  7. Can we please not have the stupid 2 tyre rule anymore. It was fascinating to watch the possibility of finishing the race without a stop. It’s been far too long since this has been a strategy option.

    1. Without the mandatory stops, races will have to be run on tracks that allows for overtaking to not be processional, and that would affect Liberty’s income so out of the question.

      Pirelli would also not like their name tarnished with blowouts that might occur from running too long.

    2. Totally agree Darryn! Just another ego-booster from “commercial geniuses!” Bring back real competition from tire manufacturers with mandates that they must make their tires available to all teams who want them. Better tires and better racing.

    3. It seems to me the One-Stop strategy is what most teams desire to use, so yes, rescinding the Two Tyres rule completely might be beneficial. Also, if they wanted a rule about starting on the tyres you Qualified on then wouldn’t it be better to apply that rule to Q3? So if you wanted to start the race on the hard tyre then you might have to sacrifice starting on the front row of the grid. For example, say your first attempt in Q3, done on hard tyres, gave you a P8 provisional starting place, why not do another attempt on the medium or soft tyres to see if you can bump your starting place up the grid?

  8. COTD: you watch a GP with some uncertainties about pace, pecking order and raw speed. The excitement of both the second qualifying and the second race would be very low. Can you imagine two parades in a row at Montecarlo? People would turn the TV off even before the second start.

    Unrelated topic: as a reply for many HAM or VER tweets @F1 post, there are always some “bot-alike”” (does the word exist?) replies with BS about Lewis or Max (interchangeable short fake stories, lost of the time). And usually another user replies “ratio”, “look at that ratio” or stuff like that. What the heck does that mean? Am I getting older at a massive speed?

    1. On Twitter the reference to a “ratio” refers to the ratio between the number of replies to a tweet and the number of retweets.

      The idea is that if you agree with a tweet, you’ll usually RT it, whereas if you disagree you’ll make this known via a reply. If someone has posted something particularly objectionable, therefore, you’ll often see a high ratio of replies to RTs, which is known as being “ratioed.”

      I think.

      1. Makes sense. Thanks a lot! Anyway, it’s surprising people take time to reply incredibly-obvious troll tweets from both fandoms.

    2. I think this is not done on every circuit just the ones who could give great stuff and MOnaco is not one with sprint. But 4 qualfliers for Monaco could be exciting every quali 10 points (total of 40) or something special for these. And we don’t have a boring race anymore.

  9. Perhaps he could’ve, although he likely would’ve lost at least two positions like Ocon.

    COTD’s idea itself isn’t bad, although not a single practice session in this format.
    Furthermore, most tracks can’t run different layouts, definitely not street ones.
    BIC, Circuit Paul Ricard (if it still were in F1 by this point), Circuit de Catalunya.
    Some others also have different options, but those are unsuitably short for F1 or would produce dismal racing, etc.

    1. @jerejj While using two different layouts is a nice idea in theory, I think there would be practical obstacles in most cases. You would probably need to rearrange barriers and access points at most circuits to adapt for the second race layout, not to mention that very few circuits even have a second layout they could race on.

  10. COTD was about double point weekend doing right. No practice season meaning uncertainty for better entertainment and drivers talent would contribute more than team setup. A longer Q1 is needed so it not too chaotic.

    The problem is equality. Why some track have it and why some don’t. I think it should applied to every weekend. So F1 could have 50 races a year.

  11. The only way to make interesting the Weekends with double races is that one race goes in the usual direction of the track, and the other goes in the opposite one. The problem is that lots of money is required to make the track OK for f1s in both directions. As usual it’s money problem, then a question of the execution with more or less downtime to make the physical change.

    They could also change the time spent to do a pit stop for the second race (which would be a full race). This is done by making a second entry and exit ,added to the usual ones, with the second ones being far shorter. For instance, only 10s would be lost to do a pitstop. In practice this means probably creating a pit entry at the middle of the length of the track.
    Again lots of money and a bit of work time to achieve this.

  12. Two full races per weekend would be too much of a good thing. It would not be as special if there was another one the next day, or if there had been one the day beforre.

    1. You could just watch only one of them….

  13. I still dont see the point in the 3 stage qualifying on Friday evening before a sprint race. I would just do an 18 minute Q1 on Saturday, refuel then head straight to the grid for the sprint race. The sprint race just replaces Q2 and Q3.

  14. Y’know what – If Liberty need/want to make a ton of money after Covid, and they’re hellbent on more races, i’d actually just like them to go with COTD. All the Sprint format etc seems to be skirting around the fact they want a ton more races. Just double up as COTD mentioned.

    As far as having the option to run different track layouts:

    Bahrain – GP, Outer
    Algarve – (Technically only the GP layout is homologated as G1 – however, I see no reason as to why the T1 hairpin variant couldn’t get signed off fairly easily)
    Paul Ricard – Take your pick…
    Red Bull Ring
    Yas Marina – New GP layout, Old GP layout (assuming they apply for G1 renewal)

    1. @ecwdanselby Bahrain also has others, for example, the dismal Endurance + Paddock, while Circuit de Catalunya still has the pre-2007 chicane-free S3 alternative. Most indeed either don’t have or only shorter-than-Monaco ones.

      1. Yes, true – Bahrain does have a number of G1 layouts, not that the Endurance one was any good, mind you!

        Barca would need a G1 licence for the non-chicane layout, which, i’m not sure they’ll achieve any time soon.

  15. I like COTD’s thinking but it fails for me in the long run.
    It is like saying
    “Christmas is great. Let’s have Christmas every day”
    After a very short time Christmas becomes meaningless.

    If there was an F1 race every weekend then I wouldn’t follow F1.
    What the Liberty Clown Show needs to focus on is quality not quantity.
    Make it something special. Something to look forwards to.

    Don’t make it a fast food franchise “Two for one offer this weekend folks!” type insult.

  16. Put them in equal cars on Saturdays! In a separate championship, of course.

  17. If Liberty ( F1,Stefano,Ross) are so hell-bent to keep the sprints, I would suggest just two changes :
    1. No DRS, esp. in light of 2022 reg changes.
    2. No points for constructors, pure driver challange and points in the WDC for the top 5 : 10,8,6,4,2.

Comments are closed.