Formula One will trial a new sprint qualifying format at three races this season, after the plan was approved unanimously by all 10 teams.
Fans have raised a collective eyebrow at the introduction of the new qualifying format, which will see a qualifying session take place after first practice on Friday to determine the order for a 100km sprint race on Saturdays.
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This race will then determine the starting order for Sunday's Grand Prix, with the top three awarded three, two and one point respectively in the sprint race.
There has been no official confirmation of which races will be used to trial the format, however the British GP at Silverstone and the Italian GP at Monza have been flagged.
The Brazilian GP has also been considered to be a likely venue, however the South American nation's ongoing coronavirus crisis has cast doubt as to whether the race will go ahead this year.
"I am delighted that all the teams supported this plan," Formula One president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a statement.
"It is a testament to our united efforts to continue to engage our fans in new ways while ensuring we remain committed to the heritage and meritocracy of our sport."
The change was put forward to make Friday's F1 running more interesting for fans, with the typical qualifying replacing one of the three free practice sessions.
However fans and F1 experts have largely taken a wait and see approach to the news, which received a lukewarm reaction at best.
yes, many fans are upset about sprint qualifying, but honestly think it’ll be pretty exciting to watch & worth a try
that said, it’s coming at the literal expense of the teams, even with a cap, teams with tight budgets may struggle if any significant damage occurs https://t.co/rfIJY7q1Np
— megan BRAUNY FOREVER brown (@thatgirlondeck) April 26, 2021
I really hope I am wrong but I don't understand the point in "Sprint Qualifying" it just seems like an excuse to have an extra race.
I mean less is more right, but hopefully turns out well.
— Jack 'Pie' McDermott (@the_pieface) April 26, 2021
Ultimately, I think this is a commercially driven decision. I'm definitely more likely to watch Friday now, because now it has competitive running.
It'll make for a less predictable Sunday grid too IMO, taking everything into account.
Does it devalue Sunday? Maybe, hard to say. https://t.co/cYzSmjJkfG
— Tommo (@TomMcCluskey_) April 26, 2021
— Glenn Freeman (@glennfreeman39) April 26, 2021
in all honesty, i don't think it's going to add anything or take anything away? Seeing as quali results feed into sprint quali which feed into the race, it's just extended the race by 100km.
So not very dramatic. Means you might be at work/school during normal quali though.
— Chain Bear (@chainbear) April 26, 2021
Former Jordan engineer turned F1 columnist Gary Anderson described the move as 'completely bonkers' and warned there could be unintended consequences.
"So extra points for the top three will only mean that the championships get decided earlier in the season," Anderson wrote for The-Race.
"I think I speak for most to say that this is not what the majority of spectators or enthusiasts want to see.
"For me, a championship battle to the last race will be a 100% better spectacle."
F1 excited to trial sprint qualifying format
Formula One is racing in Portugal this weekend for round three of the championship, with Mercedes' reigning champion Lewis Hamilton leading Red Bull's Max Verstappen by one point.
"It is not intended to impact the race event. The Grand Prix is still the vital event of the weekend," said motorsport managing director Ross Brawn of the change.
"Sunday's Grand Prix is fantastic, and we don't want to cannibalise that, but we want to lift up the engagement on a Friday and a Saturday."
Brawn said the current Friday practice format was "really for the aficionados" and the sprint format would add more excitement.
He added that the idea was for the format to be used at selected races only in future, and indicated it was unlikely to be used at Monaco.
Teams had expressed some reservations about extra costs involved, with the bigger ones already wrestling with a $US145 million ($A186 million) budget cap. They had twice rejected proposals for reversed grid Saturday races.
"The drivers are open minded about the format, and that's all we ask," said Brawn.
"If it doesn't work, we put hands up and we will think again."
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