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Why Add A Sprint Race?
F1 has always been a subject to its fair share of controversies, and the way qualifications are handled is no exception. We’ll talk about it more detail later on, but F1 wanted to switch up the 3 day race format and make the initial two days hold more impact overall by adding the sprint race. The original format went as follows;
Friday: Double Practice – Saturday: Practice Then Qualifications – Sunday: The Race
Naturally Friday has the least amount of interest, at least Saturdays session has a guaranteed impact on the Sunday Race.
Image Source Formula 1
How It Works
The sprint race now takes place on Saturday, moving the qualifications over to Friday, hopefully engaging more fans this way. Friday is now qualifications, however the qualifications affect the position of the sprint race on Saturday, NOT the main race which is still Sundays. Now we move onto the actual sprint race!
The sprint race is pretty straight forward, it’s a short, 30 minute race with no mandatory pit stops. This race will determine the starting positions for the main Sunday race. So to recap, F1 went from Practice – Qualifying – Race to the new format of
Qualifying – Sprint Race – Race. We have to admit the latter is far more exciting to watch and there’s a much larger sense of importance.
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Raising The Stakes
F1 is doing its best to keep fans engaged without risking its drivers, if you want more info on the 2022 cars click here: F1 2022 Race Cars What’s New
In addition to replacing tradition and inserting more action, it’s giving the drivers something to fight for since the Saturday race now awards points too! There are three, two and one points up for grabs for first, second and third place in the race respectively. It may seem a small amount but clutching a victory or getting a second chance at the championship because your Saturday points have added up is definitely something we want to see in F1!
The FIA is well aware that after the many controversies last season that the fans were beginning to lose patience with the sport. In a bid to bring back excitement to motorsports the spring race was introduced. Two races on a weekend sounds like a good idea in practice and the sprint races definitely have their place in F1. We hope they stay for the foreseeable future. The unintended side affect was a shame. That is that when a team has a large lead, the sprint races simply increased the gap. Now dominate drivers were getting pole positions and bonus points.
The FIA was likely banking on tighter races and more variance in winning teams with it being the first season to change the rules on car manufacturing. They were correct, but only for the first few races. After that it became the F1 we’re all used to seeing again. One team gets a lead, separated from the pack and leads the entire race until the finish. This frustration was magnified by the fact that same drivers and teams who lead the races were doing the same in the sprint races. A cool concept to let drivers get extra points for showing their capabilities and cars could work well in a “flat out” race. It’s unfortunate that the same cars who won the long races beat everyone in the shorter races. There were more “battles” and back and forth between drivers but it simply was not enough to stop big budget teams from developing “winning” cars, and strategies. Dominating drivers and teams are in a good position.