Monday, September 27News That Matters

F1 teams back plan to replace Saturday qualifying with sprint race to determine grid for grand prix

Formula One teams voted through in principle the biggest overhaul of the sport in living memory by agreeing to a sprint race taking place on Saturdays, which would count towards the world championship.

The idea is that the shorter race would replace qualifying to determine the grid for the grand prix on Sunday.

Under the plans, which await final approval and need some ironing out, qualifying would not be done away with. It would instead be held on Fridays, replacing the second — often soporific — practice session.

A sprint race is set to replace qualifying to decide the starting order for a Sunday grand prix

A sprint race is set to replace qualifying to decide the starting order for a Sunday grand prix

A sprint race is set to replace qualifying to decide the starting order for a Sunday grand prix

Provisional agreement is a massive win for new F1 boss Stefano Domenicali and his No 2 Ross Brawn, who has polished his earlier proposal of a reverse-grid race on Saturdays.

His suggestion, though potentially entertaining, was a gimmicky idea that would have undermined the sporting integrity of the most prestigious series in motor racing.

This is different and entirely fair. Qualifying would determine the starting order for the sprint race. The sprint result, in turn, would determine the starting order for the grand prix.

Provisional agreement is a boost for F1 boss Stefano Domenicali (pic) and No 2 Ross Brawn

Provisional agreement is a boost for F1 boss Stefano Domenicali (pic) and No 2 Ross Brawn

Provisional agreement is a boost for F1 boss Stefano Domenicali (pic) and No 2 Ross Brawn 

Half points will be attributed based on the outcome of the sprint and will count towards the world championships for both drivers and constructors. 

If finally agreed, the new format will be trialled at this season’s Canadian, Italian and Brazilian grands prix.

It is proposed that the shorter race would be a third as long as the grand prix.

Implications for engine rules and tyre allocation are moot issues for further consideration. As it stands, points would be awarded to the top eight finishers in the sprint race.

The new format will be trialled at this season’s Canadian, Italian and Brazilian grands prix

The new format will be trialled at this season’s Canadian, Italian and Brazilian grands prix

The new format will be trialled at this season’s Canadian, Italian and Brazilian grands prix

A joint statement from F1 and the governing FIA said: ‘All teams recognised the major importance of engaging fans in new and innovative ways to ensure a more exciting weekend format.

‘There was, therefore, broad support from all parties for a new qualifying format at some races, and a working group has been tasked with creating a complete plan with the aim to reach a final decision before the start of the 2021 championship.’

Sir Lewis Hamilton is poised to open his bid for an unprecedented eighth world championship in Bahrain on March 28 ahead of races in Imola on April 18, Portugal on May 2 and Spain on May 9.