Turns out it’s not just the cars and officials that will be reworked for F1 this year, as the FIA has tweaked a host of its sporting regulations.
Firstly, F1 will again feature three sprint races this year, but where they will be run and the rewards they will offer have both been changed. The original plan was to run six 100km sprints this campaign, but that has been reduced to three as a compromise with teams, which are understood to have sought damage compensation for putting their cars on the line for six extra races. Imola, Red Bull Ring and Interlagos will host sprints this year.
The points and pole structure will also change. While last year only offered points for the top three (with the winner getting three points) this season’s races will dish out to the top eight, with the winner receiving eight points. It effectively makes the three sprints worth the equivalent to a full grand prix victory (25 points) across the year. The sprints will also no longer set the full grid for the main grand prix on Sunday, with pole now going to the fastest qualifier on Friday. The results of the sprint will then determine the remainder of the grid behind the poleman.
After last year’s Belgian Grand Prix washout – which awarded half points after just two laps behind the safety car, making it the shortest world championship grand prix in history – the rules on what constitutes a points-scoring race have also been defined. There must now be at least two racing laps with no real or virtual safety car for any points to be allocated.