Why F1 won't swap pole position from Sprint winner to Friday pole sitter


F1 says the naming conventions for its future sprint races won't be changing despite fan outcry

Max Verstappen, 2021 Sprint

Verstappen's sprint victory netted him pole position, whereas Lewis Hamilton's quick lap was awarded with 'Speed King'

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Formula 1 is busy analysing and evaluating potential changes to the sprint qualifying format that debuted at the British Grand Prix, but one aspect that won’t be changing will frustrate many fans.

For the first time, pole position was not assigned to the fastest qualifier but the winner of the shorter Saturday race instead. Many fans had suggested a swapping of the ‘Speed King’ and pole position monikers but that is something that won’t be changing for the next edition of sprint qualifying.

“That’s not something, believe it or not, we have any control over,” F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds explained to Motor Sport.

“The FIA own the championship. The FIA will dictate what it is. We’ve heard it a lot of times but ultimately that’s an FIA decision rather than an F1 decision. As I said, we do listen to all of it.”

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An FIA spokesperson said that the naming conventions are defined within the sporting regulations that F1 operates under. Any changes would have to go through the World Motorsport Council, though could be altered faster if an electronic vote was called.

“The naming is defined within the Sporting Regulations, which are written by the FIA and approved by the World Council. Any subsequent updates would need to be approved, however it’s worth noting that this does not mean we would have to wait until the next meeting, as they can be voted electronically at any time.”

Sebastian Vettel was one of several drivers that criticised the format and said pole position had to go to the fastest driver over a single flying lap.

“It gets a little bit confusing but obviously, it depends if this is a one-off, then it doesn’t do much harm but if we end up having 10 sprint races next year, or in the future then I think it’s just a bit weird,” the Aston Martin driver said.

“Pole position should go to the guy who goes fastest in one lap, and then we call sprint qualifying ‘sprint race’. So they can make up a sprint pole or something, and it’s just a new discipline.”

F1 is already working on analysing the Silverstone Sprint qualifying event and planning potential changes to the future editions of the race.

Symonds also explained that fan sentiment and reaction will play an integral role with how the format develops and that F1 will keep experimenting with the format to get the most exciting results.