F1’s new Sprint Qualifying format explained

F1’s new Sprint Qualifying format explained

Sprint qualifying race trial hopes to increase the excitement for fans


THIS WEEKEND’S British Grand Prix at Silverstone will see the trial of a new format that includes a second Sprint Race taking place on Saturday, ahead of the main event on Sunday.

It’s part of an experiment by Liberty Media, Formula One’s commercial rights holder, to add another layer of excitement for fans and increase track action over the weekend.

Drivers have expressed mixed views on the plan, with Lewis Hamilton saying: “It’s going to be a train, probably. Hopefully there will be some overtaking but it most likely won’t be too exciting. We’ll wait and see, there’s no point judging it before we even get into it.”

What is a Sprint race?

It’s actually called Sprint Qualifying, as its result determines the starting grid for Sunday’s longer race, but it is basically a shorter version of the regular grand prix, lasting 60 miles instead of the usual 190 miles. That equates to 17 laps at Silverstone, lasting around 25-30 minutes. It follows the same rules and regulations as the longer race on a Sunday.

How will F1’s Sprint Qualifying race work, exactly?

The starting grid for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying is determined on Friday afternoon, after Practice 1, by the usual three-session knockout Qualifying, whereby the slowest five drivers are eliminated in Q3, followed by five more drivers in Q2, leaving the final ten to battle for pole position in Q3. This all takes place over a one hour period.

Once the fastest times have all been set, the starting grid for the Sprint Race is determined. Teams will then get one further practice session ahead of the Sprint Qualifying race.

Grid formation and start procedures are identical to the full-length grand prix. Drivers do not have to pit for tyres during the Qualifying Sprint race.

The final result of the Sprint Qualifying race then determine the starting grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

There is no podium ceremony for the Sprint Qualifying race, and only the top three finishing drivers will score points: three points for a win, two points for second place and one point for third. In a tight drivers’ championship battle, these could become invaluable.

When will the F1 Sprint race happen?

Following qualifying on Friday to determine its starting grid, the Sprint Qualifying race will take place on Saturday afternoon, after Practice 2.

Will there be Sprint Qualifying race in 2022?

No decision has been made yet as to whether Sprint Qualifying races will appear during the 2022 season. They will be trialed at three races this season, after which Formula 1’s management and the teams will examine how the format works and gauge fans’ feedback.

It is expected that if Sprint Qualifying races get the green light for the 2022 season, they will only appear at selected races. Ross Brawn, F1 managing director, said: “I’m not sure this format would be as successful at Monaco. We’re considering these weekends being Grand Slam events, spread through the season, so it is something different. I don’t think it’ll go to the whole season, I think it’ll be a limited number of races, but that is to be decided.”

Will there be any more F1 Sprint Qualifying races this season?

A total of three sprint qualifying races will take place this season. The remaining two races have yet to be officially confirmed as there is still some fluctuation with the F1 race calendar due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is expected that the final two sprint qualifying races will take place at the Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix.