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Will a Saturday 'Sprint Qualifying' work for Formula 1?

Can this new format work in F1?

9w ago

There is always a lot of talk and discussions in F1 about how the sport is going to move forward and what is the best way to make the sport more exciting in the future. One of the main discussions at the minutes is of course the new 'Sprint Qualifying' format which, this week, was agreed to be possibly going ahead at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos, with some points awarded for this 30-minute race. However, will a deviation from the traditional qualifying format do more harm than good?

Let's take a look at what this new format is proposing. As Sky Sports F1 reports, the new format at these three Grands Prix will see traditional qualifying now take place on a Friday, deciding the grid for Saturday's 'sprint qualifying' race. This will be a short 100km race which will then decide the starting grid for Sunday's main Grand Prix. I can understand why it is being looked at as a means to get more racing in on the overall weekend but I fear that this will pull away from what was always the main attraction in Formula 1, the Sunday, the main race.

It is only something the sport is trying for now, but it is believed that if such a format is successful this year, that it could be implemented into further race weekends within the next few seasons. It's worth trying but I am unconvinced that it will be as successful as proposed. I remember when the elimination qualifying was introduced in 2016. It initially sounded great on paper, but was a disaster come the opening qualifying session in Melbourne, and by the time the second session was held in Bahrain, the format was scrapped.

There is also the concern for the teams, who are worried about what two races over one weekend could do in terms of needing to increase spending. Multiple sources have confirmed that teams have agreed to a financial package in order to cover for these races, but a final vote on the matter could take a number of weeks before the decision is official. Teams were also concerned about any incidents or accidents on a Saturday that could enforce more work on teams to be fully ready for Sunday's race but honestly, traditional qualifying holds just as many risks in terms of a major breakdown or accident, so there isn't really much to lose there.

I am a person who doesn't exactly like change in F1, but I'm just not sure about this new format. Sure, an extra race over a weekend sounds great, but I do agree with drivers such as Daniel Ricciardo, where a possible sprint race win for a driver or team could be seen as less of an achievement than a traditional Grand Prix win. Should a driver or team who are usually not in contention somehow take a sprint race win over a given weekend, will it be seen as good as a full-length race win?

Thinking back to Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez's respective wins at Monza and Sakhir last year, they were very special wins. They were special because these two drivers, who had never won a Grand Prix before, drove their hearts out and took the opportunities presented to them in what was, two exceptionally brilliant races. If the length is shortened and somehow such a result happens again, it won't be seen as special as these two wins or any other amazing wins that we have had in recent years of F1.

The reason why sprint races or even reverse grids work in lower categories such as F2 and F3 is that the cars are basically identical. It is really up to the driver to make a difference and if even a championship contender takes the win, you know they worked hard to get into that position. In F1 it is quite different given how the overall performance varies between the teams, so you have to ask will a Saturday sprint race even make a difference when it comes to a Mercedes or Red Bull coming home ahead?

Of course, it is worth giving it a go, I just can't help being a little apprehensive about it. If it provides more excitement and gives us some good racing over the course of a race weekend then sure, go for it. If it starts becoming a bit engineered and maybe thought less of Sunday's Grand Prix race, then is it the way to go forward?

What do you think about F1's new 'Sprint Qualifying' format? Let us know in the comments below!

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Comments (4)

  • I'm not really a fan of the sprint race idea tbh, I think F1 should be above having gimmicky features like this. It throws up so many questions, does a sprint race win count as an actual win? Will drivers care as much about going for a risky overtake if all they get is 1 place further up the grid but risk starting well down the field if it goes wrong? Will it confuse viewers when they tune in and are watching a race that isn't actually a race? I think 20+ races a season is plenty and all the focus should be on the race on a Sunday afternoon.

    Personally I'm not particularly a fan of the current format either and my favoured option would be going back to an open 1 hour session with no Parc ferme restrictions at the end of it. I think its more interesting watching when a pole lap could be set at any time and watching teams trying to judge the perfect time for a lap rather than everyone just being chucked out on track together for 10 mins at a time.

      2 months ago
  • I'm not sure as well! Hopefully it's entertaining though. I wouldn't want it as a permanent fixture because I quite like the current qualifying format...

      2 months ago
    • Same here Kiran, I rather enjoy Saturdays qualifying because its the time when the cars are the fastest out on track I would hate for that to completely disappear. Its Qualifying that allows teams to have a better chance at circuits like...

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        2 months ago
    • True! Qualifying is sometimes the best part of the weekend...

        2 months ago