F1 approves sprint races, offering championship points


F1 is set to trial sprint races at three GPs this year, using them to set the grid for Sunday's race, with championship points for the top three finishers

Max Verstappen leads at the start of the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Two races per GP weekend will be trialled this season

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

F1 teams and officials have unanimously approved sprint race trials at three grands prix this season.

Championship points will be awarded for the top three finishers in each of the Saturday races, which will also set the grid for the following day’s grand prix.

In a statement from Formula 1’s commercial rights holder, the new format was said to be “designed to increase the on-track action and engage fans in new and innovative way.

“It also strikes the right balance of rewarding drivers and teams on merit while also giving others the chance to battle their way through the field on Saturday to increase their race chances on Sunday.”

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The format was approved by the Formula 1 Commission, made up of F1 management, teams and officials from the governing body, the FIA. It now needs to be rubber-stamped by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council.

The races will be held at two European venues, which are expected to be Silverstone and Monza, and one non-European venue this year, where the race weekends will feature a Friday qualifying session after the first free practice session, with the familiar three-round format.

This will determine the grid for what is termed Sprint Qualifying on the Saturday. The 100km race (equivalent to 17 laps of Silverstone) will reward the winner with three championship points. The second-placed finisher with two and the third-placed driver with one.

“We are excited by this new opportunity that will bring our fans an even more engaging race weekend in 2021,” said Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of F1. “Seeing the drivers battling it out over three days will be an amazing experience and I am sure the drivers will relish the fight.

“I am delighted that all the teams supported this plan, and it is a testament to our united efforts to continue to engage our fans in new ways while ensuring we remain committed to the heritage and meritocracy of our sport.”

Sprint race weekends will introduce Parc Fermé restrictions, on Friday ahead of qualifying (instead of Saturday qualifying on a normal weekend), preventing teams from changing major components to prevent them building special qualifying cars.