FIA plans big overhaul with ‘sprint’ races to replace qualifying

The Formula 1 hierarchy is set to discuss a proposal that will replace qualifying with a shorter ‘sprint’ race. The aim behind this is to enhance the entertainment level this season.

Voting will take place on this proposal on Thursday, with a plan to include this sprint race to decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

Qualification for this race is set to take place on Friday.

The top eight drivers in this sprint will earn approximately half the points of the grand prix.

Set to be around 100 km, which is approximately a third of the distance of a grand prix, this race will replace qualifying.

A radical overhaul of the system will see the qualifying for this sprint race replace the second practice session which is usually slated for Friday afternoon or evening.

Senior figures in the sport will discuss this proposal as they look to add life to the sport.

For this to be passed, 28 out of 30 votes are required in favour of this change. The governing body and FIA has 10 votes each, while each team has a vote as well to make the 30.

While previous plans have fallen short in the past, this proposal is reportedly one that Mercedes is open towards. Mercedes had famously blocked the plan for a reverse-grid sprint race in the past.

“Reverse grid is over. It’s important to think of new ideas of being more attractive or interesting but we don’t have to lose the traditional approach of racing,” F1 president Stefano Domenicali said.

“When we changed qualifying every couple of days [at the start of 2016], it burned our fingers. Now, the formula is quite stable. We are looking at what could be the approach of the so-called sprint race on Saturday. We are thinking that could be tested maybe this year.”

More widespread use in 2022 if approved

A potential trial for this concept has been proposed to take place at either Canada, Italy and Brazil. These venues should provide fast and exciting racing.

If the idea is a success, a more widespread use will take place in 2022.

With only avid fans tuning in to the Friday races, F1 hopes that this change could bring some more entertainment to the sport.

It goes in line with F1 aiming at increasing its business over the next five years. A major facet of that includes generating more interest from audiences across the three days.

However, it remains to be seen whether teams will accept the idea.

One problem can be seen in the fact that F1 is reportedly set to offer only an extra $75,000 per team per race to cover the new approach.

It is important to note that a front wing alone can cost as much as $200,000. That means that teams could suffer significantly in case of any damage to their cars in this race.

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