F1 set to approve sprints; Turkey in for Canada

Henry Valantine
2020 Turkish Grand Prix grid

2020 Turkish Grand Prix grid PA

The F1 Commission will meet on Monday to table final proposals for three trial sprint race events for qualifying in 2021, which are expected to be voted through by the teams.

The sprint races, which are due to take place at the British, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix, are due to be contested on the Saturday of the race weekend over 100km – around a third of a grand prix distance, to set the grid for the main race on the Sunday.

With this, a standard qualifying session will take place on Friday after free practice to determine the grid for the sprints – with the top three in the Saturday races due to receive World Championship points (3-2-1 respectively).

One of the main sticking points in the process had been reaching an agreement of a financial deal that would provide a higher budget for the teams to compete in these races.

Running costs will significantly increase as a result of sprint races taking place, with a budget cap in place for the first time in the sport – but a package of a reported $500,000 for each team has now been agreed.

A super-majority of 28 out of 30 votes on the Commission are required to ensure the vote goes through, with the teams all holding individual single voting rights, alongside the FIA and F1’s commercial rights holders’ 10 votes apiece.

With the motion due to be put to a vote on Monday, there is a 48-hour period available for responses to the measures, with a final decision due some time this week.

F1 grid, sprint race, Stefano Domenicali

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Former McLaren team principal Eric Boullier doesn’t believe that sprint races will sell more tickets to grand prix weekends in the future, but believes that an all or nothing approach should be adopted – having them at every race or none at all, depending on the outcome of the trial events.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said recently that sprint races will bring “many advantages” to the sport, with less time for practice allowing more action on-track – which he believes will add to the overall spectacle and fan experience.

While he did not confirm if the format will stay in Formula 1 or not, he said: “With free practice and qualifying, the organiser can sell a better Friday to the fans. With the second free practice as race preparation and the sprint qualifying in the afternoon, a better Saturday.

“That’s an additional platform for stories and for the sponsors. The more unpredictable everything becomes, the more interesting the racing.

“If we don’t try it, we will never know if it is an asset or not. How many times have we changed the qualifying format in the past? Always with the intention of doing it better and getting to where we are today.”

Another major announcement is also expected to be ratified with Canada once again dropping off the calendar due to complications over the quarantine process ahead of the race in Montreal. Turkey is expected to make another welcome return to the schedule its place.

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