F1 returns to its polarising "Sprint Race" format this weekend in Austria, for the second time this season. Last time out in Imola, the format worked much better than it did in 2021, so F1 will be hoping the "sprint" format holds its own once again. But how will the format work this weekend in Spielberg?
What are the F1 sprint races?
F1 will trial the sprint race format for the fifth time (and the second time this season) on the Saturday of the race weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix. It will last for approximately 30 minutes, and will be about a third of the length of a standard F1 race. Grands Prix are set to the lap closest to 305km, whereas the sprint races will run to 100km.
Will there still be a normal Grand Prix?
Yes, the F1 sprint races will set the grid order for the Austrian Grand Prix. The winner will start on pole position on Sunday, second place alongside them on the front row, and so on. The Grand Prix will run to the full 305km (71 lap) distance.
How will the F1 sprint races work?
There are lots of questions about F1's new sprint races. We've tried our best to give you a lowdown on the biggest ones below.
- Pit-stops are allowed but, unlike a standard Grand Prix, they will not be mandatory.
- Standard qualifying will still happen (and will follow the standard Q1, Q2, Q3 format) but it will only set the grid order for the sprint race. In a change from normal procedure, drivers do not have a choice of tyres for qualifying - they can only use the soft tyres.
- In a change from last season, the "pole position" trophy will be given to the driver who sets the fastest time in Friday's qualifying, rather than the winner of the sprint race.
- The weekend format has shifted for the Austrian Grand Prix, so Friday sees one practice session and qualifying, before another practice session and the sprint race on Saturday.
- Drivers can start Sunday's main race on any tyre they choose.
- There will be no podium ceremony after the F1 sprint race, but the top eight in the race will receive championship points. The winner will receive eight points, second place will receive seven, third six, and so on.
What time is the F1 sprint race?
Every session this weekend will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 in the UK and Ireland. All session times below are listed in Irish Summer Time (IST).
|Friday November 12th||12:30 - 13:30||Practice 1|
|Friday November 12th||16:00 - 17:00||Qualifying|
|Saturday November 13th||11:30 - 12:30||Practice 2|
|Saturday November 13th||15:30 - 16:30||F1 Sprint Race|
|Sunday November 14th||14:00-16:00||Austrian Grand Prix|
Will there be any more F1 sprint races?
This is the second of three sprint races in the 2022 F1 season, with one further sprint scheduled for November's Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Austria will be the fifth sprint event overall. The four races thus far have brought mixed results.
Both the British and Italian sprint races last year were fairly poor events. The highlight of the Silverstone sprint was veteran Fernando Alonso's incredible start. Meanwhile, the Italian sprint race was largely uneventful, but planted the seed of Daniel Ricciardo's remarkable win in the full Grand Prix for McLaren.
— Formula 1 (@F1) January 7, 2022
The best of last year's sprint races took place at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton came from 20th on the grid to finish fifth in just 24 laps. He would then take a grid penalty for the full race and win from tenth on the grid, in one of his greatest ever triumphs. It is no surprise, then, that the sprint format will return in Brazil in 2022.
This year's first attempt at the format went much better than the previous three attempts. A race-long battle for the win between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen saw the Dutchman make a late pass to win, while there was wheel-to-wheel racing throughout the field. That race in Imola proved there may be a place for the F1 sprint format.
How can I watch the F1 sprint race?
The entire race weekend will be broadcast live on both Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland, with highlights on Channel 4. Sky's coverage will run on Sky Sports F1 across the weekend, with their coverage of Saturday's F1 sprint race starting at 2:30pm. Channel 4's highlights of the sprint will start at 5:30pm.
Sky's live race day coverage kicks off at 12:30pm on Sunday.
Who is expected to do well?
It's impossible to predict anyone other than Max Verstappen claiming victory in Austria. The Dutchman won both of the races held here last year, and also won at this track in 2019 and 2018. His demolition job in the Styrian Grand Prix last season, which he won by over 35 seconds, is a dangerous omen for his rivals this weekend. He claimed pole position for the sprint in Friday's qualifying, which saw both Mercedes crash out.
At Ferrari, Carlos Sainz is enjoying an upturn in form, and finally took his first Grand Prix win in a thrilling race last time out at Silverstone. His teammate Charles Leclerc needs a big result this weekend to work his way back in to championship contention.
It's set to be an enthralling weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix, with the championship battle going right down to the wire, and the latest iteration of "F1 sprint" to liven up the race weekend.