F1 approves new sprint qualifying for race weekends

In a bid to liven up qualifying on a Saturday, F1 is adding a sprint qualifying race with extra points being added to the top 3 finishes.

How is qualifying set up now?

Currently, qualifying is scheduled on a Saturday the day before the race and is split up into 3 qualifying sessions. Q1 is 18mins with 4 drivers eliminated for the slowest time, Q2 is 15 mins with another 4 eliminated until the last 10 drivers are left in Q3 with 10 mins to post the fastest lap.

What is the new format?

A sprint qualifying will take place over 100km on a Saturday for three races in the 2021 season and it will determine the grid for Sunday’s race. Qualifying will be moved up to Friday and the result will order the grid for Saturday’s sprint qualifying. The top 3 finishers will receive extra points towards their championship battle. 3 points for the winner, 2 points for 2nd and 1 point for 3rd place. 

“The format is designed to increase the on-track action and engage fans in a new and innovative way,” said F1 and the FIA in a joint statement after the plans were unanimously voted through by the F1 Commission on Monday.

“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.”

In total it will give the grid an extra 9 points to fight for over the three race weekends, with the first sprint qualifying race to be held in July at Silverstone. 

In a season looking so close between RedBbull and Mercedes, the added points could be crucial to deciding the drivers and Constructers champions. 

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