There will be a significant change to the proceedings in Formula One this weekend with the new F1 Sprint taking place at the British Grand Prix.
The new trial format, essentially a mini race run over 100km, was designed to add more excitement and a new level of interest to three race weekends within the 2021 season and it will be making its debut on Saturday at Silverstone, one day ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix.
It is basically what it says on the tin; a flat-out sprint for the drivers from start to finish that is made to be short and fast and without all the strategic aspects of the real thing.
The starting order will be determined by the order in which the 20 drivers qualified on Friday evening, then their finishing positions 100km later at the end of the sprint will be the positions they line-up in for the beginning of the main event.
It’s a huge incentive for the drivers - if they win, they start Sunday’s race from pole position and if a driver were to have a poor race or worse, crash, then they will be left at the back of the pack with it all to do.
In terms of how long the race will last, the 100km distance will roughly work out to be 17 laps of the 3.7-mile Silverstone circuit. This means that the F1 Sprint is anticipated to last between 25 to 30 minutes and it is hoping to attract a wider audience, particularly younger viewers who will likely have more interest in a more condensed format.
The F1 Sprint does award points but they are only for the top three finishers. The victor shall receive three points, second place will be awarded two points and third place will collect one point. This will be another incentive for the drivers as a maximum of three extra points are at stake compared to the usual weekend format (29 instead of 26). Given how close the battle for this season's World Championship is shaping up to be, those points could make all the difference come December.
F1 managing director Ross Brawn gave his thoughts on the new format, explaining, "I am very optimistic. I think it will be a very good event, a great race.
"And I think the drivers will go for it, because do we think Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are going to have a different mindset going into that first corner because it's a sprint? I don't think so. But that's to be established, and that's what we need to find out."