F1 to hold six sprint races in 2022 but Friday qualifying could set pole

Formula One will hold six sprint race meetings next season, the sporting director, Ross Brawn, has confirmed. The concept is being tested this year with three sprint races and Brawn said that while the format has been heralded as a success, F1 is almost certain to revert to awarding pole position for the grand prix from qualifying times rather than being decided by the sprint race on a Saturday.

F1 has held two sprint race weekends this season, at Silverstone and Monza, with a third scheduled for Brazil in two weeks. The format features qualifying for the sprint on a Friday with the results of that race deciding the grid for the GP, with three, two and one drivers’ championship points awarded to the top three.

While discussions with the teams and the FIA continue, Brawn is confident one of the biggest criticisms of the format will be addressed, that of setting the fastest lap in qualifying being rewarded with pole position.

“It’s been a consistent comment amongst fans and drivers that the person who does the fastest single lap with low fuel in qualifying is the pole position holder,” he said. “I guess we hadn’t really considered that when we set out this new format. I would like to see a reversion to that being pole position. There is broad opinion that Friday should be pole position for the sprint weekends, so I would hope we can get that through for next year. I am optimistic on that.”

The venues for the sprint meeting are still under discussion but they will not feature in the opening or final rounds of the 23-race season. With the sprint qualifying races this season pedestrian at best, dialogue continues as to how the format could be further tweaked for 2022, but Brawn emphasised that given F1 will be using new cars next year any changes would be “conservative and evolutionary”.

He confirmed that awarding more points further down the grid, potentially one-third of race points for the top 10, was one proposal in order to offer more incentive for drivers to challenge in the sprint.

“It goes far enough down for people in lower positions to want to fight for it, but is not a number that will over-influence the championship,” he said.

Brawn believes reverse grids for the sprint are off the table for 2022 while the sport discusses the exact form it should take. Having it as an entirely standalone race remains an option, as does having its grid set by Friday’s qualifying.

The details will be addressed in a meeting with the teams after Brazil but Brawn said the format could be adopted across the full season in future if it proves to be a success.

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