Es ist wohl die interessanteste Neuerung der diesjährigen Motorsportsaison – der Sprint. Beim Grand Prix in Silverstone wird das kurze Hochgeschwindigkeits-Spektakel erstmals in der Formel 1 stattfinden, zwei weitere Sprints sollen heuer noch folgen. Doch was steckt hinter dem neuen Rennformat?
The Formula 1 sprint is a race that is driven over 100 km, at Silverstone that means just 17 laps. The short run takes around 25 to 30 minutes. The drivers should be given the opportunity to give full throttle from the first to the last meter without having to manage tires or energy output. Points are awarded for the first three – the winner receives three points, the second two, the third one. There will be no award ceremony, this honor is due only to the winning trio of the classic Sunday race. Instead there will be a „Post-Sprint Presentation“ – we can look forward to it. The result of the sprint is used as the starting order for the main race.
Modified qualifying and free choice of tires
The one-hour qualifying session, divided into the three segments Q1, Q2 and Q3, which has caused a lot of drama in recent years, will continue to be a large part of the show. However, it will be postponed to Friday. The session only takes place in the afternoon or evening in order to give the working fans the chance to watch. The tire rules will change for qualifying as only soft tires are allowed throughout. This means that the teams and drivers can start the race on Sunday on any tire compound and do not have to use the tire with which they qualified in Q2 as usual.
Due to the changes in the schedule, there are only two training sessions for the teams, each lasting one hour. However, the second practice session will only take place on Saturday, i.e. after qualifying on Friday. The so-called Parc Ferme – an area guarded by the FIA in which it is ensured that the teams adhere to the rules when adapting the cars – already applies from Friday after qualifying and then for the rest of the weekend to prevent that the teams build special “qualifying cars”. However, a certain amount of leeway is allowed when reconfiguring the car in order to make the FP2 session on Saturday more meaningful.
Additional budget for the teams
If the format works, it will in future be used on selected weekends and not at every Grand Prix. „I’m not sure if this format would be successful in Monaco,“ said F1 Managing Director Motorsports Ross Brawn. „We’re thinking about organizing these weekends as Grand Slam events throughout the season, so it’s something else.“
The new format seems to leave a few questions unanswered. It is not yet clear whether dropping out in the sprint race actually means that you have to start from the end of the field on Sunday. If this is the case, the risk of the driver, whether the maximum of three points, will not be too great. To offset the cost of the sprint races, an additional $ 500,000 package was agreed with the teams for the three days. If accidents happen during the sprint, a compensation scheme comes into effect. These are available for teams that suffer damage during qualifying for a sprint race. This is to ensure that a driver who damages his car on Saturday can still drive on Sunday.
„Exciting because a lot is possible in one weekend“
The reactions of the drivers and teams to the sprint races were largely positive, and almost everyone was enthusiastic about the new format. The seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to the spectacle: “I think it’s exciting that the races are very open and that a lot can happen in one weekend. I hope that this will also teach us how we can and want to race in the future. „
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is already familiar with sprint races, as he already had experience with it during his time in Formula 2. At the 2017 F2 race in Bahrain, Leclerc decided to pit during the sprint race – the pit stop is also possible here, but a little-used tactic in sprint races – and came out of the pits eight laps before the end in 14th place. In the remaining laps he stormed to the front of the field, clinched victory and made for one of the most exciting sprint races ever.