Since last season, Formula 1 has decided to experiment with the sprint race. This replaces the traditional qualifying session, which takes place on Friday instead of Saturday. A format that has been used three times this year, including the next Grand Prix in Brazil. A change that is not exactly to the liking of world champion Max Verstappen.
There are only two Grand Prix left in Formula 1. Before the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, the drivers will battle it out next weekend at the Brazilian GP. This will also include the Sprint Race, the new qualifying format used at Imola and Spielberg this season. Asked to comment on this, Max Verstappen regretted the increasing use of the sprint in Formula 1.
“For me, it’s not really a race.”
“Every time I do these Sprints, it’s about not having an accident and making sure I stay in the top three.” laments Verstappen,
“For me it’s not really a race, because it’s before the main race and you know there are a lot more points available anyway. You make another start, which is exciting, but it’s really only the ones who are not in position that come up, because you just put on a set of tyres that only lasts a whole stint and not much happens,”
F1 introduced its sprint format last year and it was deemed successful enough to be included this season, with two sprint events taking place already at the Emilia Romagna and Austrian Grand Prix. The Brazilian Grand Prix will hold the third and final sprint event of the 2022 F1 season on November 11-13.
A ‘traditional’ qualifying session will take place on Friday afternoon. In three sessions, drivers will push to set the fastest lap in three different rounds. At the end of the first two rounds, the slowest five drivers will be eliminated. During the third session, the final ten drivers aim to set the fastest possible lap against the clock. The order in which the 20 drivers finish is the order they will line up on the grid in for the Sprint race.
For 2022, the driver who is fastest in the Friday qualifying session will be awarded ‘pole position’ for the record books.
The drivers then move onto the Sprint on Sunday. Other than the length of the race, the key difference to the Grand Prix is that tyre changes and pit stops are not mandatory. The Sprint is an all-out race from lights to flag.
At the end of the race, the order in which the drivers crossed the line will set the grid order for the Grand Prix – once penalties have been applied. The drivers and teams finishing from 1st to 8th will also score championship points: 8 points for the winner, 1 point for 8th.
“You don’t need to add a third of the race distance”
According to Max Verstappen, one sprint per season would be more than enough:
“I think we should only have one of these races. I don’t understand what the problem is with that, because we have had so many exciting races, so you don’t need to add a third of the race distance,
“Everyone is very careful anyway, because if you are fighting for third and you have a little contact and you fall back to last, you know your Sunday is going to be difficult. Probably you won’t risk it, so it’s not really a race.”