F1 sprint race: what is the format of the new qualifying?
[Updated on 11/12/2021 at 5:20 p.m.] This is a race that serves as a qualifying session. This is essentially the nature of the unprecedented event, judged over 100 km, introduced in Formula 1 on an episodical basis, at least for this season. Three rounds are affected in 2021 by the arrival of this “sprint race”, the baptism of fire of which took place on July 17 during the British Grand Prix. After its inauguration at Silverstone, then a second full-scale test at Monza, during the Italian Grand Prix in September, this format is being tested again this weekend on the Interlagos track, south of Sao Paulo, in the part of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
=> F1 – Brazilian GP: live race + TV program
Race or qualifying? Victory or pole position?
In form, it's a race. Basically, a qualifying session. Moreover, it is sometimes called “sprint race” or “sprint qualifications”, since it is a hybrid concept, that of a qualifying race. This is why it is not necessarily easy to define the contours of this new event introduced during the day on Saturday, in order to promote the show on the track. This 100 km race, which should last about half an hour, represents a third of the regulatory distance of a Grand Prix, around 305 km, except for that of Monaco (260 km). Concretely, its mission is to completely replace the qualifications contested on Saturday. From then on, its result is used to determine the order of the starting grid of the Sunday Grand Prix. To follow this logic, on the F1 statistics side, know that the driver who wins the sprint race will officially take pole position.
What format this weekend in Brazil?
After the first two episodes at Silverstone (Great Britain) on July 17, then Monza (Italy) on September 11, this qualifying format is once again tested on another historic circuit. It is that of Interlagos, Saturday September 13, within the framework of the Grand Prix of Brazil officially titled Grand Prix of Sao Paulo this year. Thus, the Saturday qualifications are replaced by a 100 km race. But how is the starting grid for the latter defined? By holding, instead of the second free practice session on Friday, a classic qualifying session, for which the closed park conditions apply, prohibiting the change of major parts on the single-seaters. Logically, the driver with the fastest qualifying time on Friday will not, strictly speaking, sign a “pole position”, this statistic going to the winner of the Saturday race. As for the winner of the Grand Prix, there can only be one and it is necessarily known on Sunday. Note that there is no mandatory pit stop for this sprint race, unlike the Grand Prix for which each driver must put on at least two types of rubber. Find below the summary of the new format for the Grand Prix this weekend in Brazil, including its specific times, in French time.
Any points scored during this sprint event?
Never in the history of F1 has a qualifying format resulted in the awarding of points. It is therefore a first, in 2021, on the occasion of the introduction of this sprint race. The first three finishers score respectively three points, two points and one point in the championship. Therefore, taking into account the 25 units awarded to the winner of the next day's Grand Prix and the point awarded to the author of the fastest lap in the race, it is possible for a driver to score up to 29 points within the framework of a weekend. Furthermore, there is no podium ceremony at the finish of this sprint race, only a trophy presentation in the closed park for the victorious driver, in other words the author of the pole position, as at the stemming from traditional qualifications.
How many Grands Prix are concerned in 2021?
Under study for a few years and redefined on numerous occasions, the concept of sprint racing is therefore finding its concrete form in this 2021 season. In its final version, this new format has been unanimously adopted by the ten teams on the grid. Its introduction must be limited to three Grands Prix of the current season. First, it was the British Grand Prix, from July 16 to 18. A symbolic choice for the Silverstone circuit, scene of the birth of the discipline in May 1950. The second meeting was that of Monza, within the framework of the Italian Grand Prix organized from September 10 to 12. For the third, it is Interlagos (Brazil), during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix held from November 11 to 13.
The whole 2022 season in sprint mode?
At the start of the 2016 financial year, the introduction of a new format of qualifications with continuous elimination, particularly convoluted, had caused a resounding quack, to the point of being abandoned at the end of the second round. To avoid suffering this kind of inconvenience again, Formula 1 has decided to carry out a full-scale test on three Grands Prix in 2021, in a spaced out manner. in order to allow time to correct the situation, if necessary. After Silverstone, the test of this new format was reproduced on the Monza circuit and is now on that of Interlagos. If the test is conclusive, will the sprint race concept be the only format retained for qualifying for next year? A priori, no. For the time being, it would be a question of extending it to around a third of the Grands Prix, i.e. seven or eight meetings out of the 23 Grands Prix scheduled for 2022.
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