After a Monday, April 26 vote from the Formula 1 Commission, a plan to trial sprint qualifying races at three events during the 2021 season has been approved, pending review and approval from the FIA World Motorsport Council, which is expected to raise no objections.
New race weekend format, new challenge.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 26, 2021
The topic of sprint qualifying races has been seriously debated over the past few seasons, drawing mixed reactions from the paddock and inflamed debate from the fanbase.
Tentatively, the current plan suggests running a 100-km sprint race on Saturday to determine the starting grid for Sunday’s race in lieu of traditional qualifying. As of now, these races will also offer points for podium finishers (3-2-1). The sprint race grid will be set via a normal qualifying session to be held on Friday afternoon.
Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director, motorsports, commented that he does not expect these experimental weekends to become season spanning, but rather being used as “grand-slam” events to add variety to the schedule.
The parc ferme will be altered slightly to accommodate this development. Teams will be free to replace parts damaged on both Friday and Saturday for identical substitutes, while non-specification front wings can also be fitted should the team find itself out of usable current-spec wings. A full list of parc ferme permissions will be released at an undisclosed time in the future.
“We are excited by this new opportunity that will bring our fans an even more engaging race weekend in 2021,” Formula 1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a release. “Seeing the drivers battling it out over three days will be an amazing experience and I am sure the drivers will relish the fight.
“I am delighted that all the teams supported this plan, and it is a 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.”
The Formula 2 Championship has used sprint races to determine grid orders in recent years.
Silverstone (Great Britain) in July and Monza (Italy) in September are expected to be the first two races to experiment with this new format, while Interlagos (Brazil) is expected to be the third.