What is a sprint race in F1 and how does qualifying work?

Following its success in 2021 Formula One season, the F1 Commission approved plans to run the F1 sprint format at three Grands Prix this season.

As it was last year, the F1 sprint is a 100km dash with no mandatory pit stops and drivers racing flat-out to the checkered flag. It was introduced last season with the result determining the grid for the weekend’s main event, the Grand Prix on Sunday.

For the 2022 season, the points system has been tweaked, with the top eight drivers scoring points, where previously it was just the top three finishers. It’s also now more lucrative as the driver who finishes P1 will receive eight points, rather than three last year.

There has also been a change to the location of the sprints. While last year they took place at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos, the first sprint weekend of the season has already taken place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola in April – with the second this weekend at the Red Bull Ring and the third once again taking place at the São Paulo Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the first sprint race of 2022 at Imola a few months ago, overtaking Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the closing stages.

How does the sprint race work?

Friday traditional qualifying session will continue to determine the grid for Saturday’s F1 sprint, with the result of the sprint forming the line-up for the start of Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Last year, the driver who won the sprint was awarded the honor of pole position but this year it’s different. In 2022, the driver who sets the fastest time in qualifying – which on Sprint weekends takes place on Friday – will be given the accolade of pole position. Whoever wins the sprint will simply start in P1 for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Practice will still remain but there will only be two sessions on sprint weekends, giving the teams and drivers less time to finetune their cars for qualifying and the race – hence the chosen circuits are traditional mainstays on the calendar. The first practice will take place on Friday ahead of qualifying, with the second practice slotting in before the sprint on Saturday.

“Following a review of the three sprint events that took place in 2021 and a recognition by all that the format created positive benefits for the sport, three sprint events were proposed for 2022, acknowledging this as a sensitive number in light of the pressures already on the teams for this season with the introduction of major changes to the regulations,” an FIA statement said.

“The Commission unanimously approved the three Sprint events for the coming season, incorporating a number of updates to the format based on the feedback of fans, media and teams.”

How many sprint races will there be in the 2022 season?

Formula 1 confirmed that there will be three sprint races in the 2022 season. This is the same number as there were for the 2021 campaign. F1 had hoped to double the amount of sprints to six for 2022, but had to settle for a compromise after several of the top teams complained about cost issues amid the budget cap.

Where will the sprint races take place?

The first sprint race took place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on 23 April with the second this weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on 9 July, and the third and final at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix at Interlagos on 12 November, the penultimate race of the season.

What is the race schedule this weekend?

(All times BST)

Friday 8 July

  • Free Practice 1: 12:30 pm
  • Qualifying: 4pm

Saturday 9 July

  • Free Practice 2: 11:30 a.m.
  • Sprint racing: 3:30 pm

Sunday 10 July


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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