F1 sprint race explained

The sprint is the new experimental format introduced in 2021 to the grand prix weekend. In its short lifespan, it has undergone various forms. Since the 2023 season, it is now a stand-alone event with no impact on the grand prix. The goal is to bring more spectacle and excitement to the GP weekend.

F1 sprint format

As per 2023 and for the 2024 season, the Sprint is a separate event limited to Saturday. The outcome of the sprint race on Saturday, no longer has any bearing on the grand prix on Sunday. Save for any major incidents that mean a car cannot start on Sunday or penalties. The sprint is 100KM and takes about half an hour. It is flat-out without any (mandatory) pitstops. It now takes place on Saturday morning, followed by the regular qualifying in the afternoon. The grid for the sprint is determined by a dedicated sprint shootout qualifying session.

There is a free choice of tires, dedicated to the sprint. The traditional Sunday grand prix race format remains unchanged.
With F1 running a budget cap, the F1 teams receive additional budget to cover these sprints and receive extra budget in case of a heavy car crash in the sprint. The sprint does not have a podium ceremony.

Sprint shootout

In 2024 the sprint shootout is held on Friday (at the expense of one practice session) and determines the grid for the sprint. It is similar to a regular qualifying session with a few changes; Q1, Q2 and Q3 are slightly shorter at 12, 10 and 8 minutes respectively (vs 18, 15 and 12 in a normal qualification session). And tire choices are prescribed: mediums for Q1 and Q2, and softs for Q3.

When will the F1 sprints be held?

In the 2021 season, the concept was initially trialed with 3 events. And the same for the consequent 2022 season. While not without critique from drivers and fans, on the whole, it is seen as an addition to the weekend. 2023 ramped it up to six events, and that number of events on the calendar will remain the same in 2024: China, Miami, Austria, the United States, Brazil and Qatar. Sprints should be viewed like a 'Grand Slam event' in Tennis, spread out through the season.

How are sprint points awarded?

A driver is awarded points based on his finishing position in the sprint. Since 2022, points have been extended to the first 8 finishers, starting at 8 points for first place, down to 1 point for P8. This is significantly more than in 2021 when only the top three drivers were awarded points (3, 2, 1, respectively). Sprints are unique in that they represent the first time in F1 history that points can be achieved outside of the Sunday grand prix race itself.

How are penalties handled in a sprint weekend?

Any penalties in first practice or (regular) qualifying will apply to the race on Sunday. Any penalties in the Sprint Shootout will apply to the Sprint. Any penalties in the Sprint will apply to the race on Sunday.

Pole position

The definition for pole position, with the sprint being a stand-alone event, is the same as for any normal GP weekend.

Previous sprint formats

Originally in 2021 and 2022, the outcome of the sprint race on Saturday, determined the grid for the grand prix on Sunday. Another change is the definition of pole position. In 2022 this returned to the driver setting the fastest time in qualifying (on the Friday). As opposed to 2021, where the winner of the sprint (initially called sprint qualifying, but that tag was quickly dropped) was awarded pole. A minor change to the schedule was made for 2024, where regular qualifying is now post the sprint event.

Formula 1 sprint evaluation

The purpose of 2021 was to trial the new concept. While it wasn't met with universal praise from the fans and drivers, the sport was generally happy with this addition to the weekend.
The evaluation will likely continue in the future. Various discussion points remain on things like the costs incurred (especially under the cost cap). The number of events (to six in 2023 and 2024). Increasing the points awarded to include the complete top 10 (to 8 in 2022). And making the sprint a standalone event without any bearing on the Sunday GP (2023).

Sprint qualifying - seasons: 2021 - 2021
PlacePointsPercentage of first placePercentage of previous place (n-1)
    
13100%100%
2267%67%
3133%50%
Description: Sprint qualifying determines the grid for the grand prix.

Sprint - seasons: 2022 - 2024
PlacePointsPercentage of first placePercentage of previous place (n-1)
    
18100%100%
2788%88%
3675%86%
4563%83%
5450%80%
6338%75%
7225%67%
8113%50%
Description: Sprint is a stand-alone event.
Date last modified: 2024-05-31 23:01:09 - 3 weeks ago
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