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F1 sprint: What is it, and how does it work?

F1 sprint: What is it, and how does it work?

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F1 sprint: What is it, and how does it work?

F1 sprint: What is it, and how does it work?

Formula 1 will complete its second 'sprint' trial at the Italian Grand Prix following a successful first outing at Silverstone earlier this year.

Prior to the British GP weekend, sprint split the opinions of fans with purists fearing a shorter Saturday event would taint the race itself.

Others, however, welcomed the change as being similar to the introduction of Twenty20 in cricket where the shorter format attracted a younger audience.

But what does the weekend format look like and how will it affect the championship picture?

When will the F1 sprint take place?

F1 currently works to a well-oiled format of two practice sessions on Friday, a further one-hour session on Saturday that precedes qualifying and then the race itself on Sunday.

At the British, Italian and Brazilian races, this will change to feature a one-hour practice session on Friday followed in the evening by the current three-part qualifying.

Saturday will see a further one-hour practice session with a 100km sprint in the afternoon.

This sprint will set the grid for Sunday's race and the winner will be declared the 'pole winner'.

F1 Italian Grand Prix: Sprint timetable

FRIDAY - Practice One: 14:30 local time [13:30 BST, 08:30 EDT]

FRIDAY - Qualifying: 16:00 local time [15:00 BST, 10:00 EDT]

SATURDAY - Practice Two: 12:00 local time [11:00 BST, 06:00 EDT]

SATURDAY - Sprint Qualifying: 14:30 local time [13:30 BST, 08:30 EDT]

SUNDAY - Grand Prix: 15:00 local time [14:00 BST, 09:00 EDT]

Will the sprint winner earn points?

Points are on offer for the top three finishers with the victor taking three points, two for finishing second and one for third.

Ahead of the first trial run, it was feared drivers would relax into a rhythm and not risk losing positions in the sprint but for the most part, these fears proved to be unwarranted.

Overtaking was plentiful and with passing simpler at Monza due to the power of the slipstream, the Saturday sprint could again prove to be a highlight of the weekend.

For those toward the back of the grid or that had qualified lower than expected, the sprint presents a golden opportunity to make up ground before the grand prix itself.

What if the sprint doesn't work?

It is important to remember that although the first sprint trial was met with widespread praise, the format remains in its trial phase.

With this in mind, F1 is not afraid to pull the plug and complete a U-turn if the remaining two trials prove unsuccessful.

Netflix series Drive to Survive introduced a new, younger audience to F1, drip-feeding the sport to them in bitesize - and heavily dramatised - chunks. This is the audience F1 is hoping to lure in and that too must be remembered.

Speaking ahead of the first trial at Silverstone, Brawn explained: "We will never force this through if it’s clearly not a success.

"There’s no incentive in doing it if the audience doesn’t engage. If we don’t see a strong engagement from the fans and we don’t see the benefits. There’s no reason why we would force it through.

"I think one of the great things about what’s happening is it’s three races, it’s not the season. In the past Formula One has always struggled with the fact that when it’s made an adjustment it’s made it theoretically for the season.

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"We all remember the qualifying fiasco a few years ago, which luckily got corrected partway through the season. I think that was one that everyone forecast was going to be a struggle and it turned out to be.

"So, this is three events where we are going to trial this format and if it’s not a success, if we don’t get the response we hope, then we’ll put our hands up and we will stay where we are and look at other initiatives. But I would just ask the traditionalists to wait and see if they enjoy it."

What do you think?


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Feb 2021
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