F1 reveals Monza schedule including 18-lap sprint race

Formula 1 has officially confirmed that Monza will stage the second sprint race of the 2021 season after revealing the session times for the Italian Grand Prix weekend.

The Italian Air Force Aerobatic Display Team, Frecce Tricolori, display over the grid in their Aermacchi MB339A jet trainers

F1 staged its inaugural 100km Saturday sprint race at the British Grand Prix last week at Silverstone as part of a shake-up of the race weekend format.

While it was widely known that Monza would host the second sprint race, F1 had shied away from providing any official confirmation until Thursday evening, when it unveiled the timetable for the event on its website.

As seen at Silverstone last week, the introduction of the sprint race on Saturday has resulted in a number of other changes to the weekend schedule, including a late running of qualifying on Friday.

The one-hour opening practice session will begin at 2:30pm local time at Monza before qualifying takes place between 6pm and 7pm.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, and the rest of the field

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, and the rest of the field

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Despite criticism from some fans over the decision to run a meaningless second practice as parc ferme rules had already been locked in, FP2 will run from 12pm to 1pm on Saturday.

The sprint race at Monza - covering 18 laps of the 5.793km circuit - will then start at 4:30pm and is expected to be finished by 5pm.

Sunday’s 53-lap grand prix will then begin at 3pm local time.

Monza will host the second of three trial sprint race events in 2021. Despite initially having Interlagos in Brazil in mind to host the final sprint race, F1 has left the door open to moving it to another flyaway event, with an announcement set to be made later this year.

The inaugural F1 sprint race resulted in a mixed reaction from fans and drivers, with the highlight of the 17-lap event at Silverstone being Fernando Alonso’s first-lap charge from 11th to fifth.

One of the biggest bones of contention for fans was the decision to award ‘pole position’ to the winner of the sprint race instead of the driver who finished fastest in qualifying on Friday.

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Lewis Hamilton topped Q3 on Friday evening for Mercedes, but it was Max Verstappen who won the sprint race for Red Bull after jumping his title rival on the opening lap.

Verstappen admitted after the sprint race that it felt “weird” to have been given pole position after a sprint race, saying: “I think still pole position should be deserved over one fast lap. That for me is a proper pole position.”

F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn accepted that it was “maybe something we need to think about.”

“It's things like that that we will talk about and discuss with the FIA and the teams, but I think we can't be held back by history,” Brawn said.

“I mean, we need to respect history but we must never be held back by history.”

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