Talks planned over sprint qualifying at Australian GP

Henry Valantine
The exit of the pit lane at Albert Park. Melbourne March 2020.

Red traffic light at the end of the pit lane at Albert Park. Melbourne March 2020.

Australian Grand Prix organisers have confirmed talks will take place regarding Albert Park hosting a sprint qualifying round in 2022.

Having been trialled at Silverstone and Monza – with another test to come in Brazil – Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that sprint qualifying will appear at up to a third of races in 2022.

The shortened 100km dashes have proven popular with circuit promoters in particular, given that meaningful action takes place on all three days of a sprint weekend.

Melbourne is set to return to the calendar after the race was cancelled two years in a row due to the pandemic, but Australian GP boss Andrew Westacott has confirmed he will be discussing the possibility of hosting a sprint next season.

“I’m going to be talking about it with Formula 1 during November,” Westacott said to

“It’s not something that I’ve had dialogue, the most important dialogue was getting agreement and making sure that everything was there for the calendar.

“Now that that’s done, when Formula 1’s got a lot on their plate, because obviously they’re in a triple-header now with Austin, Mexico, and Brazil.

“But we’ll be having dialogue with them about formats and everything else.”

The starting lights at Albert Park. Australia March 2020
The starting lights at Albert Park. Australia March 2020

The Albert Park circuit has undergone significant changes to try and bring it up to date, as well as to add to the overtaking opportunities on the track.

The pit lane and the entries to several corners have been widened, as well as the right-left section of Turns 9 and 10 having been straight-lined, making for a longer straight.

With these changes, too, Westacott believes there could be scope to add a fourth DRS zone to the circuit on that part of the circuit – but that decision ultimately belongs with the FIA.

“The DRS zones get signed off much closer to the lead up of the event,” Westacott explained. “Everything indicates, through the great simulation work that Formula 1 has done, that there will be a fourth DRS [zone].

“In the same way, the indication would be that the pit lane speed limit goes from 60(kph) to 80(kph).

“But Michael Masi is F1 race director, and the FIA guys and F1 guys don’t decide that until a lot closer to the event, and I can understand that also, to a greater degree in the context of the new cars coming up for 2022.”

Australia is due to host the third round of the 2022 season, to take place on the weekend of 8-10 April next year.