Formula 1’s plans for three ‘Sprint Qualifying’ sessions this season look set to go ahead, following weeks of discussions which have led to a financial package being agreed upon by all ten F1 teams.
F1 is set to trial sprint races at three grands prix this year as part of a plan to experiment with the race weekend format before potentially implementing the change permanently next year, when major rule changes will revolutionise the sport.
Discussions have been ongoing, firstly to secure backing for the proposal, then to agree how the sessions will operate and now a financial agreement has been reached, putting the plans on course to get the green light in the coming weeks when they will officially be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC).
Teams raised concerns that these extra sessions will not only push their costs up in terms of additional tyre and engine usage, but they also run the risk of sustaining damage.
Liberty Media has therefore agreed to pay teams a lump sum to compensate them, believed to be around $500,000, whilst the budget cap will also be lifted by the same amount.
Teams may also be able to claim additional compensation for any damage sustained in a sprint race.
The sessions will officially be known as ‘Sprint Qualifying’ so as to not detract from Sunday’s main event and will take place on Saturday morning running to 100km, with second practice taking place in the afternoon. First practice will take place on Friday along with qualifying, which will decide the grid for the sprint qualifying race.
The result of sprint qualifying, which will award points to first, second and third only, will then decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
The British, Italian and Brazilian races have been earmarked to host the trials, though with record breaking COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, there remains a risk the event may not go ahead and another could take its place to run a sprint qualifying trial.
Further meetings are set to place during the Emilia Romagna GP weekend to iron out other small details before official confirmation.