Formula 1: New deal gives green light to sprint races

‘Continental Circus’ owners, Liberty Media, and all of the teams taking part in the Formula One World Championship have come to an agreement for the introduction of sprint races in the current season. The news was confirmed by several British motorsport media outlets.  

The negotiations were lingering over the additional payout demanded by the teams in account of the extra costs involved in the new races. Such amount has finally been settled at four hundred and twenty thousand eurosjust over half the eight hundred thousand euros initially claimed by the scuderias.  

The settlement was the last and perhaps the only hurdle for both parties to finally greenlight the experiment. Initially, the short races that will settle the starting grid for the Sunday GPs will be introduced at just three of the events of the current World Championship calendar

These will be the British GP (17 July), the Italian GP (11 September) and the Brazilian GP (6 November) although the very celebration of the latter appointment is in the air given the high coronavirus index at the South American country. This year is meant to be a sort of trial run, with the aim of fully implementing the format in 2022. 

During the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, both parties already made some ground agreeing on the overall format of the new sprint races. They determined, for instance, that these should be 100 kilometres long; a third of the traditional rounds.

As for their starting order, this would be determined by a qualifying round to be held on Fridays. The format of the Grand Prix would therefore be substantially modified. 

The action on the track would begin as usual with a Free Practice 1 session lasting sixty minutes. The Free Practice 2, however, would disappear giving way to a traditional classification round, that is, with a Q1, Q2 and Q3. From the fight against the chronometer would come the order of Saturday’s sprint race – lasting 20 laps approximately. This one also comes with two substantial changes. 

On the one hand, teams will be allowed to freely choose their tires for both the races on Saturday and for Sunday. This measure is intended to make things a bit more exciting and unpredictable. 

Each team will thus be able to adopt a different strategy to best match their pilots and the performance of their cars to the compounds. Also, three points will be awarded to the winner; two to the second classified and one to the third. 

Money, money, money

Liberty Media has supported the introduction of these changes to make the sport more vibrant and attractive although they are obviously also moved by financial objectives.

Most spectators are drawn to visit the track only for the Sunday race during the Grand Prix weekend. During Fridays and Saturdays, the influx of fans to the circuits is considerably lower. The new measure hopes to attract a greater number of people during those two days when currently many seats remain empty. 

Regardless of the success or failure of this new format, it is clear that Formula One is undergoing a process of modernisation in an attempt to be more attractive to the general public.
Only time will tell if these first steps are going in the right direction or are just part of a trial-and-error process. 

Images of ‘F1 sprint races’:

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