The Chaos Awaits: F1 Prepares for First Sprint of the Year in China

F1 awaits the first sprint of the year. And it can be quite a mess.

The following two race weekends await us with sprint races. A new weekend format will premiere in China.

Changing the format itself probably won’t be a problem, on the contrary, it can help. But F1 last raced in Shanghai in 2019. Then the races in China were canceled due to covid-19.

In practice, this means that a number of riders will ride this track for the first time (Čou, Cunoda, Piastri, Sargeant). But for the first time, current cars will also drive on the track. Drivers and teams will continue to have just one practice session ahead of the hot part of the weekend.

Riders therefore warn of chaos and problems. Carlos Sainz fears a repeat of the Austin scenario where teams set the car too low, excessive skid plate wear and the disqualification of Leclerc and Hamilton.

Another problem, according to Sainz, could be the new surface and potentially less grip. “Istanbul 2.0 is maybe in play, but I hope not,” Sainz said, referring to the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, where things really slipped.

“It just shows the uncertainty. Maybe for you at home it’s exciting, but for the engineers and drivers it’s something that I don’t think we should risk and have a normal weekend.”

What will change?

The first sprint took place in 2021 in Silverstone. Since then there have been a number of changes. The sprint no longer determines the order at the start of the race and is better scored (the first eight riders are scored in the style of 8, 7, 6, 5, …). Perhaps the only thing that remains from the beginning is the length – the sprint is run over 100 km.

There are two novelties this year. Of course, nothing changes on Sunday, the Grand Prix of China awaits us. Training will take place on Friday. In the afternoon, instead of qualifying, the riders will go to a shootout. Then on Saturday we have a sprint and then qualification – set your alarm clocks and replenish your caffeine reserves. Sprint is on the program already at 5:00 our time!

The change has one benefit. Allows you to create two separate parc fermé modes.

In the classic weekend, the parc fermé mode applies from the moment the driver starts qualifying. It then ends when the FIA ​​checks the cars after the race. During this time, with few exceptions, settings may not be changed, parts may not be exchanged for parts of a different specification, etc. The car is, simply put, “frozen”.

During the sprint weekends, this regime applied from the Friday qualification through the sprint shoot-out, sprint to the race. If the teams chose the wrong setup, they could not change it – there is only one way and that is to start from the pits.

The new parc fermé will be valid from the start of Friday’s shootout to the start of the sprint. Then again from the start of the Saturday afternoon qualifying until the end of the race (before the FIA ​​checks the cars).

We are therefore facing a “race of mechanics and engineers” who will have to evaluate the situation in the meantime and possibly change the settings. Realistically, they will have a little over 3 hours to do it.

As before, the mandatory tire allocation will apply in the shootout – medium in the first two parts, soft in the last. For a regular weekend, Pirelli runs 13 sets (from soft to hard in an 8-3-2 combination). In the sprint it is 12 sets (6-4-2).


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