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F1 sprint race plan set for green light as teams agree financial deal

Formula 1 has cleared its last major hurdle over sprint qualifying trials, with sources revealing that teams have now agreed to a financial package.

Bahrain F1 start of race

Bahrain F1 start of race

Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

As previously reported by Autosport, F1’s desire to run Saturday sprint races at three grands prix this year had hit a snag with teams not happy about the extra costs involved.

Beyond some teams wanting a bigger financial compensation from F1 chiefs for the extra money it would cost to add three more races, the issue was further complicated by the impact this could have on cost cap limits.

But a push by some outfits to increase the cost cap by up to $1 million met resistance from some smaller teams who feared that the extra spending scope would be used for performance gains.

Following discussions over the past few weeks regarding the costs issue, multiple sources have confirmed that a financial proposal has been put forward that teams are happy with.

While the exact details have not been revealed, it is understood that teams will receive around $500,000 dollars for the extra three races – with the cost cap being lifted by that same amount.

Furthermore, if a team endures a hefty damage bill as the result of a major accident in a sprint race, then there is scope within the agreement for further leeway with an extra payment and a raised cost cap limit to cover this, so they are not unfairly penalised.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and the rest of the field at the start

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, and the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

With the financial terms having now been settled, it is understood that only a few minor details now need to be finalised before the final sprint race rules can be formally signed off by teams.

With teams in agreement over the matter, however, there is no huge rush to get it across the line so a final vote may not take place for a few more weeks - although it could happen as soon as the Imola race weekend.

The sprint qualifying plan will be to run three 100km Saturday races at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos this year to see what impact it has on the television and trackside spectacle.

The Saturday race will offer a few points, and decide the grid for Sunday’s main event.

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Speaking at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said getting the financial details sorted was important for the bigger outfits who were pushing right at the limit of F1’s new budget cap.

“There just has to be a sensible allowance that takes that into account, because we’re chasing £10,000, £20,000, £30,000 savings at the moment to ensure that we’re hitting the cap,” he said.

“To suddenly have a variable like this is something that just needs to be accommodated. We’re keen to support it but there needs to be an accommodation.”

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