Sprint qualifying is being introduced to Formula 1 this season at three different tracks: Silverstone, Monza and reportedly São Paulo.
It is the first time in history that Sunday’s Grand Prix is not the only race in an F1 world championship weekend. The aim is that it will be a positive and refreshing change for both Formula 1 and the race organisers, through increase in both income and spectator engagement.
It will work by moving Saturday’s qualifying session to Friday, which will set the grid positions for the sprint qualifying, which will take place on Saturday. In turn, the sprint qualifying will set the grid positions for Sunday’s grand prix race.
The new event will not be called a ‘race’, to guarantee that Sunday’s Grand Prix endures its role as the primary focus of the weekend. By moving qualifying to Friday, the weekend will now consist of three days of competitive action, rather than two.
Many teams were unsatisfied with Formula 1’s initial proposal for an extra payment of $75,000 (£54,000) for each sprint qualifying, saying that this would not cover the cost to run the cars, especially if there was any major damage
The first location to host a sprint qualifying will be the British Grand Prix in Silverstone on 16-18th July. The second has been confirmed to be the Italian Grand Prix in Monza on 10-12th September. The third location has not yet been revealed but it is expected to be São Paulo in Brazil, if the race is able to go ahead in November given the country’s high COVID-19 rates. However, there has been lots of interest from other tracks on the Formula 1 calendar as well.
The idea was approved by the Formula 1 teams and bosses on Monday 26th April, but it was agreed in principle in early February. The reason for this delay is due to communication between Formula 1 and the FIA to finalise details such as financial arrangements.
Many teams were unsatisfied with Formula 1’s initial proposal for an extra payment of $75,000 (£54,000) for each sprint qualifying, saying that this would not cover the cost to run the cars, especially if there was any major damage. Mercedes and Red Bull were two of the major teams at the forefront of the argument.
If the new approach succeeds in adding a new level of excitement to the Formula 1 race weekend, then it could be adopted more frequently throughout 2022
Ultimately, a compromise was reached so that each team will receive $150,000 for each sprint qualifying. There will also be an insurance scheme in place for compensation if any expensive car parts are damaged during sprint qualifying.
This isn’t the first year that Formula 1 have considered introducing a form of sprint qualifying. Last year, there were rumours of plans for a reverse-grid sprint qualifying, with the field starting in reverse championship order. However, the Mercedes team were not in favour of this idea and they blocked it from becoming a reality.
If the new approach succeeds in adding a new level of excitement to the Formula 1 race weekend, then it could be adopted more frequently throughout 2022. Formula 1 President Stefano Domenicali said the plan was “testament to our united efforts to continue to engage our fans in new ways while ensuring we remain committed to the heritage and meritocracy of our sport.”
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