Formula 1 will trial a sprint race at Silverstone this year but the first attempt could come at the Canadian Grand Prix if plans are approved.
Changes to the race weekend format have been analyzed for a number of years under Liberty Media’s ownership, with reverse grids for a sprint race suggested for last season. New F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali confirmed last month that reverse grids will not be part of the sport’s future but that the idea of sprint races remains on the table, and after a positive reception from the F1 Commission there are set to be trial events featuring Friday qualifying for a sprint race that will decide the grid for the grand prix at three rounds this year.
“We are finalizing the intricacies of it,” Domenicali told the Daily Mail. “For sure we do not want to take away the prestige of the grand prix itself. That will remain the climax of the weekend.
“We will have the qualifying on Friday and then ‘sprint qualifying’ on Saturday. It will provide some meaningful action the day before the race. It will give fans, media and broadcasters more content. It will last about half an hour. There will be no podium celebration. That will wait until Sunday.
“But points will be awarded – how many is yet to be decided – towards the world championship and determine the grid for the race itself. What I can say is that Silverstone will hold a sprint race.”
Domenicali’s comments regarding Silverstone comes despite the final plan requiring approval, and then two further venues are expected to be added. June’s Canadian Grand Prix is one candidate and would likely be the first trial, but that is subject to the COVID-19 situation, with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve needing to commit to preparations before knowing if fans will be permitted.
Pre-COVID, Silverstone regularly achieved the largest race weekend attendance on the calendar, while Montreal boasted the greatest percentage increase year-on-year the last time it hosted a race. Monza and Interlagos are two of the other suggested venues for a sprint race.
The idea has split opinion among the drivers, but they are expected to know more about the format and specific details following a meeting with Domenicali in Bahrain tonight, ahead of the start of pre-season testing tomorrow.