This weekend Formula 1 introduced F1 Sprint (also referred to as Sprint Qualifying). This trial is an effort to enrich the experience of a complete Grand Prix weekend, both for fans in attendance and for those tuning in around the world. It adds a more competitive edge between Friday’s qualifying sessions and the actual race itself on Sunday.
What’s The Format?
The F1 Sprint is a race that takes place over a 100km (~62mi) covered distance and over a duration of 25-30 minutes. It is meant to provide a short and fast-paced event with drivers going all out without any pit-top requirement. Points are awarded to the top 3 finishers in a 3-2-1 format. There is no podium ceremony as that will remain a privileged tradition for the top 3 race finishers on Sunday. However, a more condensed presentation will be held at the end of the Sprint.
When Does F1 Sprint Take Place?
There will be three F1 Sprint in the 2021 Crypto.com F1 Sprint Series with the first one held this weekend at Silverstone. The other two have yet to be determined, however, it is widely assumed that the Italian Grand Prix in Monza will be one of them. If this pilot format is successful, they plan to continue the rollout throughout the season and not at every Grand Prix, however this too has not been finalized.
All New Friday Format
The Friday qualifying session will still remain in place, split into three segments, giving more importance to the Friday building into the weekend. It will take place later in the day to allow for more convenient viewing/attending times. Tire rules will also change for this session as only soft tires will be permitted throughout. As such, teams will be able to start Sunday’s race with any tire option instead of having to start with the tires used in Q2 qualifying.
As a result, Friday’s traditional “qualifying” now sets the grid for the Sprint race which then sets the grid for the Grand Prix.
There will now be two practice sessions throughout the weekend, with each session going 1 hour. The first will occur mid-day on the Friday with teams able to use any two sets of their allocated 12 tires with their required 5 sets of soft tires for qualifying and the 2 sets of choice for the race.
After FP1, vehicles then go into Parc Ferme, before being released into FP2 which takes place on Saturday morning. Here, they’ll be able to use tires of their choice. After FP2, they return to Parc Ferme ahead of the F1 Sprint, prior to being placed in the quarantined environment ahead of the race on Sunday.
What is Parc Ferme?
When a vehicle is in Parc Ferme state, it is forbidden to change any major components of the car to prevent teams from creating enhanced qualifying cars while limiting the number of hours required to prep the car for the following day. There is however some leeway on car reconfiguration to make the FP2 session more useful. From a safety standpoint, team can replace brake friction for a new, identical set that was used in qualifying and F1 Sprint prior to the Sunday race; brake ducts can also be changed.
Allowances have been made for adjustments on power unit and gearbox cooling should the ambient temperature change by 10’C or more and weight distribution can also be altered.
In the event that a front wing is damaged during the F1 Sprint, for example, and the team has run out of latest specification front wings, they can run a previously used specification without penalty. Previously a change of specification, either for a new or older component, would have triggered a penalty.
Between qualifying and F1 Sprint, teams are allowed to replace or adjust suspension elements such as springs and dampers, or alter camber, toe, or ride height of suspension components as defined in Article 10.3 of the Technical Regulations.
Wet Track Conditions
If FP1 or Qualifying is to occur during wet conditions, teams will be given an additional set of intermediate tires, but will then be required to return a used set of those before the F1 Sprint. If road conditions are still poor during the F1 Sprint, the teams may return one set of used or intermediate tires afterwards, to be replaced with a new set.