Unresolved questions over Sprint Qualifying won’t stop format’s introduction

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is confident Formula 1 will introduce its new Sprint Qualifying format this year, despite key details of the format remaining undecided.

Formula 1’s plan to hold the extra sprint races on Saturdays was revealed by RaceFans early in February. But over a month later, with the first race of the new season less than two weeks away, teams are still yet to agree several important aspects of the new format.

F1 intends to hold Sprint Qualifying races at three rounds of the world championship. The British, Italian and Brazilian grands prix are now understood to be the favoured events. For the plan to go ahead, the final proposal must be approved in a vote of the F1 Commission.

The Sprint Qualifying proposal is radical in some respects. Points are expected to be awarded to the top three finishers in the Saturday races, meaning the three chosen rounds will award a maximum of 29 points instead of the 26 at the other grand prix weekends.

However other details of the format have not yet been agreed. The outstanding areas of discussion include changes to restrictions on tyre compounds and DRS during the Sprint Qualifying races, and the format’s effect on the ‘Parc Ferme’ rules which govern when teams can make changes to their cars.

Binotto said a meeting between teams and F1 regarding the plans on Saturday was positive, and does not believe the sticking points over the format will prevent it being introduced this year.

“We are obviously happy to support the concept,” said the Ferrari team principal. “There are still a few details that need to be addressed, which we are discussing and working on, but I don’t think they will be stoppers.

“So it’s only a matter of finalising the proposal in all aspects. But we are really working on those and hopefully in the next few days it can be announced.”

Williams team principal Simon Roberts said his team also “support the idea.”

“We’ve certainly been working closely – and I think other teams have as well – with Formula 1,” he added. “I think most of the technical stuff is pretty much there. And it was a positive meeting. We just wait and see what happens next.”

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