F1 Sprint Weekend Format Key Updates Ahead of Imola GP

F1 Sprint Weekend Format Key Updates Ahead of Imola GP
Charles Leclerc #16 car, racing at the Emilia-Romagna GP. Sunday, 2021. Photo courtesy: Scuderia Ferrari.

F1 Sprint Weekends are back, featuring a series of changes to the original concept first introduced last season. Ahead of the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, an in-depth look through the format will reveal what is new for the 2022 season.

Introduced in Formula 1 at the iconic Silverstone circuit in 2021, the new qualifying format for the race on Sunday, loved by some and not so much by others, is back in 2022 with a series of strategic changes.

This season the name of the event changes to F1 Sprint Weekend instead of Sprint Qualifying.

In addition, there will be more points on offer for the drivers and the introduction of new venues; however, the most significant switch involves the pole position, a subject that generated great debate last season.

STRUCTURAL CHANGES

The Commission unanimously approved the three Sprint events for the coming season, incorporating a number of updates to the format based on the feedback of fans, media, and teams,” an FIA statement read.

As approved by the Formula 1 Commission, championships points will be awarded to the top eight finishers.

Following the new schedule, the F1 Sprint poleman now receives eight points on a scale that goes down to one point for the eighth place.

In 2021, only the top three finishers earned points, three for the poleman, two for the second place, and third place received one point.

The number of Grand Prix that will showcase Sprint remains unchanged, three overall, though new locations are featured, starting this weekend.

The upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola will feature the Sprint weekend, running in the traditional Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, spaning 4.909 kilometers (3.050 miles).

The second venue will run during the Austrian Grand Prix, which takes place in the Red Bull Ring in July, followed by the Sao Paulo GP in November, with Interlagos serving as host for the last event in the 2022 season.

Brazil remains the only non-European location to experience Sprint for a second consecutive season.

Last year, the venues that held the event during the FIA Formula One World Championship were the British GP in Silverstone, the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, and the Sao Paulo GP in Interlagos.

Furthermore, the Sprint weekend in Imola will present two free practice sessions (60 minutes each), the first staged on Friday ahead of Qualifying (Q1, Q2, Q3 format) and the second before the Sprint scheduled for Saturday.

Qualifying represents a substantial change to the concept of Sprint when it comes to awarding the event’s pole position.

Last season, talking about awarding pole position to the Sprint race winner, Formula One World champion Nico Rosberg expressed his opinion on Twitter, writing: “This is not the right decision. Pole 100% has to go to the fastest guy in Qualifying.

The sprint race winner should not be awarded pole position. That will totally cannibalize the historic F1 statistics.”

And that is what the spectators will see happening in 2022; unlike last year, on Friday, the fastest driver in Qualifying will receive the Pirelli Pole Position Award instead of the Sprint event winner.

Qualifying decides the grid for Saturday’s F1 Sprint, a “mini-race” that runs over 100 kilometers, demanding no mandatory pit stops.

Meanwhile, the Sprint results will continue to set up the grid lineup for Sunday’s Grand Prix, which remains unchanged, featuring, in the case of Imola, 63 laps.

Reviewing the 2021 format, Friday consisted of FP1, followed by a one-hour qualifying (Q1, Q2, Q3) session, defining the grid for the Sprint Qualifying held on Saturday.

Then, on Saturday morning, FP2 would take place across sixty minutes, with the Sprint Qualifying, setting the pole-sitter for Sunday’s race.

In 2021, the eventual champion, Max Verstappen, emerged victorious on Italian soil, followed by title rival and seven-time Formula One world champion MercedesLewis Hamilton, with Lando Norris crossing the finish line in third with McLaren.

THE TIRES

According to Pirelli, the tire rules are the same as last year’s venues.

It is worth highlighting that during an F1 Sprint weekend, the teams will have 12 sets of tires available rather than the usual 13 of a conventional race weekend.

Of those 12 sets, two are P Zero White hard, four of P Zero Yellow medium, and six sets of P Zero Red soft.

Notting that teams will have up to six Cinturato Green intermediates sets and three Cinturato Blue full wets available in case of rain, which as per the weather forecasts, seems likely this weekend.

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, remarked: “Generally speaking, Imola is a medium severity track for the tires, and it’s a venue that is used quite frequently.”

Adding: “This means that we might see a little less track evolution than we’ve been accustomed to at other circuits as the track is well rubbered-in already.”

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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