A ‘sprint race champion’ award is among the possible changes to the format being considered for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
The third and final sprint qualifying round of the current F1 season will take place at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix next week. As RaceFans previously reported the series plans to hold six sprint events next year.
“We’ve in principle agreed with the teams that we will look towards six events for next year,” F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn confirmed.
Asked by RaceFans whether it could create a ‘sprint qualifying champion’ award, Brawn said: “Yes I think that’s a possibility.”
“I think as you saw with Crypto we were able to bring in a new commercial partner which was partly around sprint so therefore that could be a very appealing aspect for commercial partners,” he added.
However Brawn stressed any change to the format must not detract from the grand prix on Sunday. “The trick is always to make sure we never cannibalise the main event,” he said.
“The race on a Sunday is the main event. It’s the grand prix and we want to enhance that and not cannibalise that. So whatever we do, we’re mindful of not detracting from the Sunday event. So if we did do something it would have to enter consideration. But it’s an option.”
F1 will discuss other potential changes to the sprint format after its third running in Brazil. These include awarding more points on sprint weekends, describing the Saturday event as a ‘race’ rather than ‘qualifying’ and using Friday’s qualifying session to decide the grid – and pole position – for Sunday’s grand prix.
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“There’s a few things which are on the table for discussion,” said Brawn. “The pole position for Friday – which has clearly not been popular, not having the pole position for a Friday – that’s on the agenda.
“The naming of the event – because we all call it a race, it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – the naming of the event is something we want to tidy up.
“And then perhaps the points distribution for a Saturday could make it more challenging and inviting for drivers to race. So that’s definitely something which is on our agenda to discuss with the FIA and the teams.
“Following Brazil, there’ll be another get-together. We’ve had the F1 Commission, it was very positive and after Brazil we’ll get down and start to sort out the details.”
The decision to name the sprint qualifying race winner as the pole position holder produced an especially strong backlash, including from drivers such as Sebastian Vettel who described it as “wrong”. Brawn is hopeful this will be changed if the format continues into 2022.
“We definitely need to look at it,” he said. “It’s been a consistent comment amongst fans and media and drivers et cetera that the person who does the fastest single lap with low-fuel in that sort of competition is the pole position holder. I guess we hadn’t really considered that, if I’m honest, when we set up this new format.
“So personally I’d like to see a reversion to that being pole position. These things are decided with the FIA and the teams but that one definitely I think [there’s] broad opinion that Friday should be pole position for the sprint weekends. So that’s something I would hope would get through for next year.”
The sprint qualifying events currently award three world championship points to the winner, two for second and one for third. Brawn would like to increase the maximum points on offer and award points to more drivers.
“I think the points distribution for a sprint, personally, we proposed something around the third of the points you get in a race for the sprint. That was the initial proposal which was not taken up because the feeling was that we needed to see how the sprint functions first before we allocated the points.
“So we think that will be the starting point for the discussion, something around that sort of order. So it’s significant enough to be worth going for, it goes far enough down that people in lower positions still want to fight for it but not of a number that has an over-influence on the championship.
“It will have an influence on the championship, it must have, that’s what we want, but not an excessive amount.”
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