What is a Sprint Race in Formula 1

what is a sprint race in f1

Whenever you introduce new things or ideas into something, it is bound to shake-up stuff. Introduction of sprint racing in formula one is an idea aimed at enriching the F1 experience. It is possible you might be wondering, what is a sprint race in F1 and how does this format work?

If you are new to formula one, this might be the first time you are hearing about sprint racing in F1.

However, if you are a fan of the sport, then you have attended or enjoyed watching sprint races in formula one over the 2021 season.

It is an exciting idea, starting with great tension on Friday’s qualifying session, through to chequered flag on Sunday afternoon.

What is a Sprint Race in F1

A sprint race in formula one is a short version of the normal race, which is carried out over 100km distance and without pit stops.

This is different compared to the formula one’s usual 305km Grand Prix distance, except in Monaco.

Sprint Races in the 2021 Formula One Season

In the course of the F1 season in 2021, the sprint races took place in three formula one circuits.

The three includes;

  1. Silverstone
  2. Monza
  3. Sao Paulo

I hope you have enjoyed the sprint races in F1 so far.

  1. Silverstone

When it comes to the sprint races, the first ever race took place at Silverstone, in United Kingdom.

The sprint race was won by Red Bull’s Verstappen, followed by Lewis Hamilton in second, and Valtteri Bottas was third.

The Dutch driver overtook his world title rival on the opening lap before defending his position to gain the official pole position for the grand prix, and three world championship points for winning the sprint, after Hamilton started on pole for the sprint race.

Hamilton picked up two points for finishing runner-up in the sprint, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas gaining one point for finishing in third place.

  1. Monza

The second-ever sprint race in F1 took place at Monza Italy. It was an interesting weekend.

During the sprint race on Saturday was good for Bottas as he won the sprint. Verstappen finished second, with McLaren’s Ricciardo finishing third.

Hamilton finished fifth, and would go ahead to crash with Verstappen during the race on Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas started the Grand Prix on Sunday at the back of the grid due to a power unit change penalty.

  1. Sao Paulo

The third F1’s sprint race took place at Sao Paulo, in Brazil. The qualifying for the sprint race took place on the Friday of the race weekend.

It was a good weekend for the top teams with Mercedes and Red Bull taking the top positions.

Related: Will Lewis Hamilton Take Another ICE/Engine?

Hamilton took a new ICE and that ensured he got a five-point grid penalty during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

In qualifying for the sprint race in Sao Paulo, Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets and started on pole for the sprint race. Max Verstappen finished second and Valtteri Bottas finished third.

Lewis Hamilton Disqualified from Qualifying – Sao Paulo, Brazil

In a twist, following the qualifying for the sprint race in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the qualifying. This was because of a technical breach or infringement on his rear-wing. related to the DRS system.

It means that Hamilton was stripped off his P1 for the F1 sprint after the technical breach was found on his Mercedes W12 car. From P1, Hamilton would start sprint race from P20.

The subsequent drive from Hamilton was epic. He was able to move from P20 to finish the sprint race at P5. It clearly demonstrated that Mercedes had the pace, and could overtake.

This meant on the Grand Prix, he would then start at P10 as earlier mentioned he had a 5-place grid penalty.

This was a major blow to his championship title hopes, given he still had taken a 5-place grid penalty for taking on a new ICE.

Max Verstappen was also fined 50,000 euros for touching Hamilton’s car at the Parc Ferme. Having finished second on qualifying, Verstappen inherited pole position and would line up alongside Bottas for the sprint race.

Lewis Hamilton Wins Sau Paulo Grand Prix in 2021

In what turned out to be the most exciting, and probably the best drive of his formula one career, Lewis Hamilton turned a penalty-ridden weekend in Brazil into a win.

Starting P10, Hamilton made some overtakes, which included the two Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. While the overtake on Perez was pretty easy, he fought on the track with Verstappen for P1 eventually overtaking him on Lap 59 on the way to Turn 4.

At the end of the race Hamilton had managed to reduce the point deficit to 14 points behind Max. Mercedes extended the lead on constructors’ championship by 11 points.

How Sprint Race Works in Formula 1

The idea behind having a sprint race is to bring or add some fun dimension to a Grand Prix weekend.

It is meant to entertain you, and help you enjoy the formula one racing more.

While the top teams still dominate the sprints, it has brought some great pressure. A sprint race weekend improves the F1 experience, and adds value to motorsport racing.

The formula one’s schedule is different on a sprint race weekend. It is hoped that this will interest you to continue engaging with F1 sport throughout the weekend.

A sprint race format provides you with many benefits. With little or less time for free practice session, there is a high chance of increased action.

In the course of 2021, each sprint qualifying and race has provided interesting results. I am sure you have enjoyed each of the weekends.

Sprint Race Weekend Explained

The format will see all the drivers qualify in a standard Q1, Q2 and Q3 session on a Friday afternoon to form the grid for the sprint qualifying, which will take place on a Saturday.

By doing this, the amount of practice time is reduced. This means the teams will have to do as much running as they can during the free practice period.

The races will take place over a shortened 100km distance, which should equate to about 30 minutes of racing.

Pit stops will not be mandatory during these sessions, making it a straight fight to the line.

The top three drivers in the F1 sprint race each receive World Championship points. Drivers are awarded points as follows;

  • Winner – 3 points
  • Second place – 2 points.
  • Third place – 1 point.

However, the podium ceremony is not included after the sprint racing.

Over the course of a season, those points could ultimately make a significant difference in who becomes World Champion.

In terms of official statistics, the winner of sprint qualifying will officially receive pole position for Sunday’s race.

Structure of a Sprint Race Weekend

With the structure of a race weekend changing to accommodate sprint qualifying, here is how the schedule will look at these events:


  • Free Practice 1 (60 minutes)
  • Qualifying (Standard Q1, Q2, Q3 format to set the grid for the sprint race)


  • Free Practice 2 (60 minutes)
  • Sprint qualifying (100km race to form the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix)


  • Grand Prix (contested as normal)


In conclusion, sprint races are short than the actual race. They are being used to spice up the formula one, and to also decide on the starting grind on a Sunday.

It is an elaborate plan by F1 to improve the sport. The sport has received favourable ratings from the fans.

From a commercial point of view, it is important to formula one to increase excitement and opportunities to mix things up.

Read More: What Current F1 Drivers are Not From Wealthy Families?

In terms of the future of sprint races in formula one, this depends on whether the format works.

The idea is to roll it out at selected weekends in the future, rather than at every Grand Prix.