Silverstone GP first to conduct F1 Sprint: All you need to know
The Silverstone GP hosts the first experimental race weekend Red Bull

Silverstone GP first to conduct F1 Sprint: All you need to know

FIA experiments with the race weekend at Silverstone GP with the introduction of F1 Sprint

Formula 1 and the FIA are experimenting with a new race weekend format for the 2021 F1 season, and the Silverstone GP is the first to try it. The highlight of this experiment is the F1 Sprint session where the drivers will complete a short version of the race to determine the grid for the Sunday GP. F1 Sprint will cover 100kms in race distance and the drivers are not obligated to use two different sets of tyres in the session, unlike on race day. The experiment is partially based on the race weekend conducted at the junior Formula levels. This format will be carried out at three Grand Prix on the 2021 calendar and the continuation of the format depends on its effectiveness and response from the viewers. FIA introduced the experimental race weekend with the intention to spice up the race weekend as compared to a regular Sunday showdown.

These are the few highlights for the much-anticipated experimental race weekend.

  • Three Grand Prix from the 2021 calendar will be chosen to conduct the new format with Silverstone being the first

  • The F1 Sprint will be conducted on Saturday with an all-out race for 100kms in race distance

  • There will be only two practice sessions lasting one hour each as compared to the usual three sessions

  • Tyre allowance of a team reduces to 12 from the usual 13 for the race weekend

  • Lewis Hamilton is not convinced by the new race weekend. He expects the Sprint F1 session to be interesting only for the first few laps with a DRS train in picture

  • Most drivers are keeping an open mind about the changes and support the experimentation attempts by the FIA

The new structure pressurizes the teams to extract the most out of the free practice sessions
The new structure pressurizes the teams to extract the most out of the free practice sessionsRed Bull

Here’s a breakdown of how the new weekend will proceed.

Friday

The Friday session will start with a Free Practice which will last for one hour. During this session the teams and the drivers are allowed to change the settings and parts on the car. Post the session, Parc Fermé rules would be applied to the car and no further adjustments are allowed to the car till Saturday.

Following Free Practice 1 (FP1), a standard qualifying round is conducted with three stages of elimination much like qualifying is held normally. However, this session will be held on a Friday. The results of this session will decide the grid for Saturday’s F1 Sprint. The tyres used in this session will not be carried over to F1 Sprint.

Timings

Free Practice 1: 7pm IST

Qualifying: 10:30pm IST

The F1 Sprint decides the grid for the Sunday GP
The F1 Sprint decides the grid for the Sunday GPRed Bull

Saturday

Saturday will host the second and final practice session of the race weekend. The cars will still remain under Parc Fermé regulations but the FIA has allowed some wriggle room for the teams to modify their cars. Under the new regulations, the teams can change the brake friction materials and the brake ducts with new parts which should be identical to the qualifying round. Front wings can also be replaced to an old or new spec without triggering a penalty. Teams are also allowed to change various suspension elements for the F1 Sprint session.

The starting grid for the F1 Sprint round is decided by the qualifying round results from Friday. The F1 Sprint will cover 100kms in race distance. Teams will have a free tyre choice for the session and a pit-stop is not mandatory. The positions in which the drivers finish during this session will determine the grid for the Sunday GP. Three points are awarded to the first position with the second and third gaining two and one point respectively.


Timings

Free Practice 2: 4:30pm IST

F1 Sprint: 9pm IST

Winners of the Sunday GP will get to celebrate on the podium in fashion
Winners of the Sunday GP will get to celebrate on the podium in fashionRed Bull

Sunday

The main Grand Prix will be hosted on Sunday as per the standard format. There will be no changes made to the main event. The only difference is that the teams and the drivers will have a free tyre choice to start the race. The Sunday GP starts at 7:30 IST

According to the FIA, the motive of the experimental race weekend is to bring in more action during the entire Grand prix weekend. The format is hoped to give the audience a more thrilling experience of a Formula 1 weekend. The inspiration of this idea has been taken from the juniors Formula formats and will be tested for three Formula 1 races. The format will bring more pressure on the teams with just two hours of Free Practice sessions and new Parc Fermé regulations.

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