Formula 1 is considering changes to its race weekend format for 2022, with a new qualifying session on Friday leading up to a short “sprint” race on Saturday. The result of the sprint race will not impact the grid positions for the main race on Sunday. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali announced the plan at the last F1 Commission meeting and the concept received wide support from team bosses. Sporting directors are reviewing the proposed changes, requesting the FIA provide an updated set of rules for further consideration since the proposal includes updates to sporting regulations.
There are two versions of the plan being considered, with one resulting in a qualifying session for the main race on Friday, followed by a sprint-race qualifying session on Saturday. The second version proposes sprint-race qualifying on Friday and main-race qualifying on Saturday. This change will require meticulous planning since it will necessitate revisions to the current sporting regulations, including handling of Parc Ferme and tyre allocation, and will affect Friday’s FP1 session and Saturday’s FP2 session.
The teams have been given only 12 sets of tyres for the sprint event, with two sets of hards, four sets of mediums, and six sets of softs. Using new tyres for both qualifying sessions would exhaust the available tyre limit, hence it is likely that teams will utilize used tyres for the second qualifying session. An alternative option proposed was one-lap qualifying, which uses fewer tyres.
There are further logistical challenges such as approval from the Sporting Advisory Committee and the World Motor Sport Council for implementing these changes in time for the Baku event in April, especially since many sporting directors have holidays planned during the April break and Easter period. Failure to complete the necessary revisions in time for Baku will result in their implementation from the next sprint event in the summer.
Haas team boss Gunther Steiner confirmed that the proposed changes in the sprint format align with Domenicali’s recent remarks on reducing the amount of practice generally, confirming that a second qualifying session could replace the Friday FP1 practice session in the future. He also added that they need to take it step-by-step and that they do not have to sort out everything in one shot, stressing the importance of making the free practice session more interesting for the spectator.