Formula 1 will trial 62-mile sprint qualifying races at three grands prix this year - and championship points will be on offer for the top three finishers in each race.
The idea was unanimously approved in a vote by the FIA Formula 1 Commission, and the three-race trial this season will be used to evaluate the wider roll-out of the format for next season.
The races will be staged at two European and one non-European event this season. While not official, the British Grand Prix in July is set to hold the first qualifying race, with another taking place for the Italian Grand Prix. The Brazilian GP was also poised to use the format, but the Covid-19 situation in the country means it is unclear if that event will go ahead.
F1 bosses believe that the sprint qualifying events will increase on-track action and “engage fans in a new and innovative way”. The races will be held on Saturday afternoon, and will be used to set the starting grid for the following day’s grand prix.
According to F1 bosses, the format for the event has been designed to balance “rewarding drivers and teams on merit” while also allowing racers to fight their way up the order in the qualifying races. The first-place finisher in each qualifying race will receive three championship points, with the runner-up and third-place finisher receiving two and one respectively.
The three events featuring the qualifying races will feature a 60-minute practice session and a ‘normal’ qualifying session on Friday. The Saturday will feature a 60-minute practice session in the morning, with the 100km (62-mile) qualifying race in the afternoon. Sunday will feature a full-distance grand prix.
Teams will be allocated two sets of tyres to choose from for Saturday’s qualifying race, and two further sets for Sunday’s grand prix. To stop teams using special ‘qualifying cars’, parc fermé conditions will be applied from the start of qualifying on Friday, with only limited essential changes allowed from then on.