F1 sprint races will return in 2021, with shorter Saturday races taking place before the main Grand Prix in Italy, Austria and Brazil.
Following test Sprint races at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos last year the concept has been retained for 2022 with some changes. There had been rumours that the concept was to be dropped following complaints from teams about the extra costs, but following extensive negotiations Formula 1 announced the go ahead today (14th February).
The experimental races were not without controversy, with teams concerned about extra damage and fans and drivers complaining about the awarding of an official pole position to the winner of the Sprint race. Addressing these concerns the driver that tops Friday’s qualifying will now receive the official Pole Position award. The times from that session will set the grid for the Sprint race on the Saturday, with the grid for Sunday still set by the finishing order of the Sprint race.
In 2021 points were awarded to just the top three finishers. For 2022 this will be expanded to the top eight, with eight points available to the winner, dropping to one for the eighth place finisher.
Each race will retain its 100km length with the new format needing to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council the net time it meets.
Last year’s F1 Sprints received mixed reviews, with very little happening during the challenges at Monza or Silverstone. But the final experiment at Interlagos saw a charge from the rear by Lewis Hamilton and a battle for the lead between Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. F1 is hoping that it is the latter experience that is repeated in 2022.
Speaking about the new an FIA statement said: “Following a review of the three Sprint events that took place in 2021 and a recognition by all that the format created positive benefits for the sport, three Sprint events were proposed for 2022, acknowledging this as a sensible number in light of the pressures already on the teams for this season with the introduction of major changes to the regulations.
“The Commission unanimously approved the three Sprint events for the coming season, incorporating a number of updates to the format based on the feedback of fans, media and teams.”