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F1 approves sprint races plan at three rounds in 2021

Formula 1 teams and the championship’s bosses have unanimously supported the plan for sprint qualifying trials this year, with the first event set for the British Grand Prix.

Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-21, Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-21, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and others line up for practice starts at the end of FP3

Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-21, Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-21, Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and others line up for practice starts at the end of FP3

Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Following a vote at the F1 Commission on Monday, the matter drew universal support from all parties.

Although the plan still needs formal approval by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council before being put in the rule book, this should be a formality.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali welcomed the move, which he felt would deliver an added entertainment factor for fans.

“We are excited by this new opportunity that will bring our fans an even more engaging race weekend in 2021. Seeing the drivers battling it out over three days will be an amazing experience,” he said.

“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.”

For now F1 has not confirmed where the sprint races will be, merely stating that there will be two in Europe and one at a flyaway event.

However, it is understood that the first two sprint trials will take place at Silverstone and Monza. A final decision on the flyaway, which has long been expected to be Brazil, will be taken nearer the time.

Start action, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 leads

Start action, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 leads

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

FIA president Jean Todt believed the go-ahead for the sprint race trials was evidence of the collective power F1 has when organisers and the teams work together.

“F1 is showing itself to be stronger than ever with all stakeholders working together in this way, and much has been done to ensure that the sporting, technical and financial aspects of the format are fair,” Todt said.

How the sprint race format will work

The idea is to run a Saturday 100km sprint qualifying race at three grands prix this year.

The result of this race will decide the grid for Sunday’s main event, as well as offering a small number of points (3-2-1) for the top three finishers. The weekend timetable will be as follows.

Friday:

AM: One hour FP1 session with two sets of tyres for teams to choose from.

PM: Normal qualifying format in the afternoon with five soft tyre sets available.

Saturday:

AM: One hour FP2 session with one set of tyres for teams to choose from.

PM: A 100km sprint qualifying race in the afternoon with two sets of tyres for teams to choose from.

Sunday:

PM: Full distance grand prix with two remaining sets of tyres.

In the event of wet conditions:

  • Three sets of wet tyres and four sets of intermediate tyres will be available at the start of the event.
  • If FP1 or qualifying is wet, teams will receive an additional set of intermediates but must return a used intermediate set prior to the sprint race.
  • If the sprint qualifying is wet, teams may return one set of used wet or intermediates after – which will then be replaced with a new set of intermediates.
  • There will be a maximum of nine sets of wets and intermediates in total.

New parc ferme rules

In a bid to keep costs down and prevent teams from building special qualifying cars on Friday, F1 will change the parc ferme regulations.

After the start of sprint qualifying, cars will be in full parc ferme. However, between Friday’s qualifying session and the start of the sprint race, some limited changes will be allowed.

A small number of components (to be confirmed) can be swapped out and the weight distribution of the car may be altered. The power unit and gearbox cooling may also be adjusted for ambient conditions if there is a 10-degrees Centigrade swing between Friday’s qualifying session and Saturday’s sprint race.

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