Formula 1 has been trying to bring in more audience into Formula 1 Grand Prix racing for many years. F1 has continually applied technical changes in efforts to increase unpredictability in the races, but all these had minimal effect.
The current race weekend format is not very attractive for the new generation of audience, which includes Generation Z and Alpha. To shake up the race format, the short F1 sprint qualifying race idea on a Saturday afternoon was born.
The F1 teams finally agreed to do a trial at three different races in the 2021 season. Let us dive into the details and see how the race weekend will unfold.
F1 2021 Sprint Qualifying Venues
The British Grand Prix 2021 in Silverstone will be the first circuit to hold a Grand Prix under the sprint race format. The other two places to incorporate the new format will likely be the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos. However, we know that the situation is very fluid, and the confirmation of the two latter venues will come at an appropriate time.
How will the Sprint Qualifying race format work?
The teams will get 12 sets of dry tyres for the whole race weekend instead of 13. This was decided as there will be less running through the weekend compared to the original format. The weekend will start with 1 hour of the practice session on Friday morning. The cars will then enter the qualifying in the afternoon session under parc ferme regulations.
The teams can only use the soft tyres during the Friday evening qualifying session. This session is aimed at people who would like to attend an event on their way home on Friday evening. The qualifying format will stay the same during the sprint race weekend. The only change is that the fastest driver at the end of the qualifying will not score the pole position. Therefore, he will not be called the pole-sitter for the main race on Sunday.
The teams will then do an hour of practice on Saturday morning to fine-tune their machines. The cars will not be under parc ferme regulations during the FP2 session. The teams will be allowed to use only one set of tyres during the session.
The sprint race will be on Saturday afternoon, where cars will run flat out for a sprint race distance of 100 km. It will be a 17-lap race of pure racing at the Silverstone racetrack. The number of laps will be different on other tracks, but the distance will be the same. The teams will be free to choose any tyre compound for the sprint race.
The drivers will line up on the grid for the main race on Sunday in the order they finished the sprint race on Saturday afternoon. The teams and drivers will again be free to choose any tyre compound they want to start the race. In the original race format, the top 10 drivers were bound to start the race on the same set they used to clock the fastest time during the Q2 session on Saturday. The race will be run over 300 km of the race distance.
What about the Pole Position and Points?
The driver finishing the sprint race in the first position will score the pole position for that Grand Prix. The drivers finishing in the top 3 will receive additional points. The driver in the first place will get 3 points, second place driver 2 points, and third place driver will score 1 championship point. Instead of any kind of trophy, the sprint winner will get a flower wreath.
Changes to Parc Ferme Conditions
Parc Ferme conditions prevented teams from changing any undamaged parts on the cars to change the car setup. The teams are now allowed to change brake friction materials and brake ducts ahead of the FP2 and Sprint Qualifying. The teams can also adjust the cooling of the gearbox and engine if the ambient temperature increases by more than 10 degrees. If a car’s front wing gets damaged during the sprint race and the team does not have same-spec front wing, they can use any other spec for the front wing without penalty. Between F1 sprint and qualifying, the teams can change springs, dampers, ride height or toe of the front tyres as described in article 10.3 of the technical regulations.
What’s the Future of the New F1 Sprint Race Format?
The future is dependent on the success of the trial races that will be held during the 2021 season. If the feedback is poor from the fans and the teams, then that will be the end of the road for F1 sprint qualifying races.
On the other hand, if it becomes successful, then F1 and the teams will strengthen their collaboration to include the sprint races in circuits where it will produce the most exciting races.
It will still be held in selected venues, and most of the championship rounds will be held under the original race format.
Watch out for more updates about the F1 World Championship Races here on Carpart.com.au. See the first F1 Sprint Qualifying Race in blazing action! Coming up shortly at the 2021 F1 British Grand Prix!