Formula One is poised to trial sprint races at three rounds of the 2021 calendar, after all ten teams agreed a financial package for the proposal with Liberty Media.
As per the deal, Liberty Media will pay each team a one-off payment of $500,000 to cover their costs of competing in the three trial sprint races this year.
The $145 million budget cap will be raised by the same amount, and teams will also be able to apply for additional compensation if their cars suffer damage during the trial sprint races.
This year’s British, Italian and Brazilian grand prix have been earmarked to host the three trial sprint races, though there are doubts about the viability of the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the severity of the crisis in the country.
The sessions, which will officially be monikered “Sprint Qualifying”, will have a 100km-race distance and will take place on the Saturday morning of a grand prix weekend.
So, for the three rounds during which sprint races will be trialled, Free Practice One (FP1) and qualifying for the sprint races will take place on Friday, while Free Practice Two (FP2) will take place on Saturday afternoon after the sprint race.
The outcome of “Sprint Qualifying” will dictate the order for the grand prix – which will remain the main event of the weekend and will continue to take place on a Sunday – and only the top three finishers will score points in this new session.
If the trial goes well this year, sprint races could become a permanent feature of the F1 calendar from 2022 onwards.
The proposal still needs to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) but it is looking highly likely that the sprint race trial will go ahead this campaign.