Three GPs earmarked for F1 qualifying race trials

Three races have emerged as possible venues for experiments with Formula 1 Saturday qualifying races in 2020, but only if all the teams agree that the idea can go ahead.

Three GPs earmarked for F1 qualifying race trials

The three races in question are the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom.

A change to next year’s FIA Sporting Regulations at this stage requires unanimity, and Motorsport.com understand that more than one team remains opposed to the plan, despite intense lobbying by the FIA and the F1 organisation.

However, a change for 2021 won’t require unanimity if made before the end of April 2020, so it’s possible that the idea will be postponed and tried a year later than is currently intended.

If the experimental sprint events prove to be successful they will be potentially be used more extensively in the future, although not on all race weekends.

The subject has been discussed extensively in recent meetings of key stakeholders, with details further refined in a meeting of team managers and FIA and F1 representatives in Suzuka on Thursday.

A second meeting on Friday saw team representatives – mostly strategists such as James Vowles of Mercedes – discuss the results of their simulations of how Saturday races would unfold at particular circuits.

The consensus is that the frontrunners will find it hard to make progress in sprint races compared to those who start at the back of the grid and come through the field in a normal race - as in sprint races there will be no stops and the likelihood is that everyone will start on the same compounds.

Read Also:

A lot of thought has gone into the selection of possible venues, taking into account factors such as a pattern of uneventful races in the past.

The races chosen are the 10th, 14th and 17th rounds of next year’s schedule. That means nine events will have taken place before Paul Ricard in order to determine the world championship order which would then be reversed to form the grid for the Saturday race.

There are five races to run after Russia, thus reducing the likelihood that the Sochi weekend could prove decisive in the title battle.

The sprint races would fill the traditional Saturday afternoon qualifying slot. Drivers will have a free choice of tyres for the start, and there will be no requirement to use two tyre compounds and thus no compulsory pit stops. There will also be a much shorter preamble on the grid before the start than is traditionally the case.

A concern for teams has been the extra risk of sustaining damage in Saturday races relative to normal qualifying, with the cost of having sufficient spares to hand a major talking point.

Asked by Motorsport.com, Sochi promoter Sergey Vorobyev said that he would be open to the idea of hosting a Saturday race.

“At this stage I cannot confirm or deny,” he said. “We support Liberty’s efforts to modernise F1 and would be happy to serve as a proving ground for experiments.”

shares
comments
Raikkonen: F1's wet-weather limitations "look ridiculous"

Previous article

Raikkonen: F1's wet-weather limitations "look ridiculous"

Next article

Why F1 junior schemes produce more flops than stars

Why F1 junior schemes produce more flops than stars
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021