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Formula 1: ‘Sprint’ races to be introduced to set grid at three races in 2021
- Updated: April 27, 2021
Shorter ‘sprint’ races will be introduced to Formula 1 this year to set the grid positions at three grands prix, series bosses have agreed.
Points will be awarded to the top three finishers – three for first, two for second and one for third.
Grid positions for the shorter race – to be called ‘sprint qualifying’ – will be set by moving qualifying to Friday.
Avoiding calling the event a ‘race’ is to ensure that the grand prix remains the main focus of the weekend.
It will be the first time in history that the grand prix is not the only race on an F1 world championship weekend.
The shorter ‘sprint qualifying’ race will run to about one-third of the distance of a grand prix, which has a maximum length of just over 305km (190 miles).
The move will involve a series of other sporting changes to the standard race weekend and is intended as an experiment to see whether it introduces extra levels of uncertainty and interest to the weekend’s action.
The British Grand Prix on 16-18 July will be the first event to host the new format, followed by the Italian race on 10-12 September.
Brazil had been expected to be the third, but this has not been confirmed – partly because there is interest from other tracks, and also because there is doubt as to whether that race can go ahead in November given the high rate of Covid-19 infections in the country.
If the new approach delivers on its aims, it could be adopted at more races in 2022, when changes to the technical rules usher in a new generation of Formula 1 cars aimed at making the racing closer and more competitive.
It was approved unanimously by the F1 Commission of teams and bosses on Monday. It still requires ratification by the sport’s legislative body, the FIA World Council, but this is expected to be a rubber-stamping exercise.
F1 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”.