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F1 approves radical new sprint qualifying races at 3 grands prix in 2021

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Formula One has approved sprint qualifying races at THREE grands prix during the 2021 world championship.

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Two of the shorter races on Saturdays, which will replace qualifying and determine the grid for the Sunday’s grand prix, are likely to be hosted by Silverstone and Monza.

Interlagos could stage a third sprint qualifying race if Brazil’s high Covid-19 infection rates do not scupper the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.

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FIA president Jean Todt said: “I am pleased to see that Formula One is seeking new ways to engage with its fans and enlarge the spectacle of a race weekend through the concept of sprint qualifying.

“It was made possible thanks to the continued collaboration between the FIA, Formula 1, and all of the teams.

“F1 is showing itself to be stronger than ever with all stakeholders working together in this way, and much has been done to ensure that the sporting, technical and financial aspects of the format are fair.”

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The FIA Formula 1 Commission says the format is designed to increase on-track action, and strikes the right balance of rewarding drivers and teams on merit while also giving others the chance to battle their way through the field on Saturday to increase their race chances on Sunday.

A qualifying session on the Friday after the first free practice will determine the grid for Saturday’s sprint qualifying.

The top three finishers in sprint qualifying will receive points. The first place will receive three points, second place two points and third place one point.

Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive of Formula One, said: “We are excited by this new opportunity that will bring our fans an even more engaging race weekend in 2021.

“Seeing the drivers battling it out over three days will be an amazing experience and I am sure the drivers will relish the fight.

“I am delighted that all the teams supported this plan, and it is a testament to our united efforts to continue to engage our fans in new ways while ensuring we remain committed to the heritage and meritocracy of our sport.”

All regulatory changes are subject to approval by the World Motor Sport Council.

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