F1 will have more sprint qualifying rounds in 2022 but can it fix the format’s contradictions? · RaceFans


Having performed two trials of its ‘dash qualifying’ format, with yet one more to return in Brazil, Components 1 is planning six extra subsequent yr.

As RaceFans revealed yesterday the F1 Fee has agreed in precept to carry one other half-a-dozen dash qualifying occasions in 2022. The World Motor Sport Council is predicted to rubber-stamp the choice.

What stays unclear, nevertheless, is how the game intends to handle the failings and contradictions thrown up by its experiment with the format. F1 has repeatedly insisted followers love the change, glossing over the clearly extra essential response from a lot of our readers and people on social media.

It’s too early to say whether or not dash qualifying can win over its doubters, or appeal to sufficient new followers to the game to make up for any who could also be turned off by it. There most persuasive case for dash qualifying is that it attracts in additional eyeballs by changing apply classes with aggressive motion. However with the 2022 F1 calendar anticipated to increase to 23 rounds, how many individuals will discover the time to observe 50 aggressive classes in 52 weeks?

Monaco is a no-go for the dash present

The reward F1 heaps on the format throws up one other contradiction: If dash qualifying is superior, why not use it at each race weekend?

F1’s argument is that it will not be appropriate at some tracks, comparable to Monaco, as a result of overtaking is so tough there. However that’s an indictment of something, it’s the circuit, not the format. If the overtaking drawback at Monaco was that unhealthy, F1 wouldn’t race there in any respect. And other than that one circuit, which is an outlier amongst others in so some ways, are there actually that many tracks which might be ‘unsuitable’ for dash qualifying races?

This additionally underlines the very fact F1 has not but satisfactorily answered an important query raised by dash qualifying: Why ought to some rounds of the world championship be value extra factors than others?

The 2 dash qualifying occasions held thus far have largely didn’t make good on the guarantees of spectacular races by which drivers, untethered from the necessity to protect tyre or engine life, would push flat-out within the pursuit of a greater beginning place for the grand prix. And, in the event that they’re on the sharp finish, a handful of additional factors.

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As a substitute, dash qualifying has re-emphasised acquainted factors concerning the shortcomings of recent F1 racing. As soon as the joy of the beginning has died down and the sector has unfold out, the vehicles’ aerodynamics makes passing too exhausting.

Hamilton took benefit of freer tyre guidelines at Monza

(Arguably, by giving drivers free tyre selection for each races, dash qualifying has proven F1 may create extra attention-grabbing methods by casting off the ‘Q3 tyre rule’ in any respect occasions, one thing RaceFans readers have beforehand indicated they need to see.)

Some drivers have instructed F1 must encourage variation within the lap occasions between vehicles to extend overtaking in dash races. “My feeling is the dash is simply too brief and the vehicles are just about driving flat-out each single lap and it doesn’t supply sufficient alternative between the vehicles to have the ability to overtake,” stated George Russell after the newest dash occasion.

“Usually while you see overtaking it’s due to a tyre delta. If all people goes on the market, Mercedes and Pink Bull are inside just a few tenths, then McLaren and the following vehicles are inside just a few tenths and so forth and so forth. You solely get that overtaking alternative with the tyre delta and 100 kilometre race didn’t offer you that chance.”

However this contradicts a key argument for the dash format, which was {that a} shorter race would encourage drivers to push flat out and create extra thrilling races. Furthermore, if the dash qualifying races had been prolonged past their present one-third grand prix distance, would they nonetheless be brief sufficient to name ‘sprints’?

Probably the most obvious contradiction of dash qualifying has at all times been its identify: F1’s insistence on referring to a race as a ‘qualifying’ session. This comes from the highest: FIA president Jean Todt made it clear he won’t settle for the classes being referred to as ‘races’.

There are different nomenclature issues, notably the concept that pole place is now not being determined by a real qualifying session. Even F1 drivers have described the re-defining of pole place as ‘incorrect’.

However these quibbles over names aren’t merely floor issues. Essentially altering traditions which have endured because the first spherical of the world championship was at all times going to be a controversial transfer.

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F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn has indicated this drawback might be addressed. One resolution could also be to separate the dash occasion from qualifying and make it a separate, stand-alone race. However the route might solely result in extra contradictions, not least with Todt’s clear opposition to dash races in F1.

F1 may have F2-style dash races

By eradicating the grid-setting side of the dash format, another incentive might be wanted for drivers to race quite than sit again and protect their vehicles. Providing extra factors is one apparent route, as Mercedes staff principal Toto Wolff instructed when RaceFans requested him concerning the change final week.

“If we had been to do extra [sprint events] then possibly the format total must be tweaked,” he stated. “What number of factors are attributed, is it actually three, two, one or ought to it return to tenth place, with out undervaluing the grand prix?”

Wolff’s remark neatly captures this contradiction. The present dash qualifying races cowl one-third grand prix distance however supply lower than one-eighth the reward of Sunday’s occasion by way of factors.

If F1 had been to award the highest 10 then – assuming they’re not going to deal in fractions of factors – the worth of ending tenth in a dash race can be a minimum of one level, the identical as a grand prix. That might clearly under-value the grand prix.

Alternatively it may borrow from Components 2’s instance. It makes use of the identical factors system as F1 for its characteristic races, then offers 15 to a dash race winner, all the way down to 1 for eighth place. These are in roughly related proportion to their race distances of 170 and 120 kilometres respectively. Adopting an analogous precept, F1 may give eight factors to a dash race winner down to at least one level for eight place.

If F1 does go down the route of stand-alone dash races, it is going to primarily mimic F2’s format, which subsequent yr may have dash races on Saturdays and longer races on Sundays. In addition to accepting that similarity, it is going to additionally additional improve the probability the world championship may very well be determined exterior of a grand prix.

Each situations would arguably undermine and devalue the standing of grands prix, which F1 has stated it’s keen to not do, and is Todt’s overriding concern. However maybe the promise of additional eyeballs and better income has proved too nice for that to be a consideration any longer.

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