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F1 Sprint and Italian GP schedule explained: Q&A on second outing for F1's new trial format

The F1 Sprint format gets its second run out at Monza this weekend; explaining all the rules, what happens to qualifying, and how sprint sets the grid for the Italian GP; Qualifying on Friday at 5pm, with the Sprint race at 3.30pm on Saturday, ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix

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MUST WATCH: Your essential video guide to F1 Sprint and how it fits into the revamped weekend.

F1 Sprint: What is it?

Introducing the second outing for the trial format designed to add extra excitement and a new layer of intrigue to three race weekends in the 2021 season.

F1 Sprint is effectively a mini race run over 100km (300km is the usual GP distance) on Saturday afternoon, one day ahead of the Grand Prix.

Short, fast and, as you'll see below, without the strategic intricacies of Sunday's traditional big race, F1 Sprint is, as its name suggests, designed to be a flat-out sprint for drivers from start to finish.

The format debuted at the British GP in July and returns this weekend at Monza.

When is it and what's the significance?

Saturday's F1 Sprint at Monza takes place on Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm. Sky Sports F1's build-up starts at 2.35pm.

The 20 drivers start in the order they qualified on Friday evening - more on that below - and their finishing positions 100km later will be the positions they line up in for the start of Sunday's Grand Prix.

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If you win, you're starting Sunday's race from pole position; if you're 10th, you start in that same spot one day later, while if you hit technical trouble or crash out, you'll be at the back and left with it all to do.

Sky Sports F1's live Italian GP schedule as F1 Sprint returns

Date and show On Air Session start
Practice One 1pm 1.30pm
Qualifying 4.20pm 5pm
Practice Two 10.30am 11am
F1 Sprint 2.25pm 3.30pm
The Italian GP 12.30pm 2pm

How long does F1 Sprint last?

The 100km distance at Monza works out to be 18 laps of the super-fast Temple of Speed.

The Saturday sprint is therefore expected to last 25-30 minutes, with the condensed and stripped-down nature of the racing action designed to be part of the appeal to spectators and TV viewers.

And are there points in F1 Sprint?

Yes - but only for the top three finishers.

  • First place will receive three points
  • Second place gets two points
  • Third place collects one point

That means there are a maximum of three extra points on offer to drivers compared to normal weekends (29 rather than 26).

But even though the points in F1 Sprint are relatively meagre in isolation and limited to the top three positions, all drivers are fighting for grid position for Sunday's Grand Prix. Every overtake therefore still counts for something, all the way through the field.

Are there pit stops in F1 Sprint?

Although not technically banned, they are certainly not expected given how short an F1 Sprint event will be.

Unlike the Grand Prix, there is no mandatory change of tyres required and, unless cars hit damage or puncture or it rains, don't expect them to leave the action on track for the pit lane between lights out and chequered flag.

Drivers are free to run on whatever tyre compound - hard, medium or soft - that they wish.

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Sky F1's Simon Lazenby and Martin Brundle look ahead to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix from Monza.

So what happens to Qualifying?

The usual three-part knockout qualifying hour still takes place, but moved from its usual Saturday afternoon slot to Friday evening.

At Monza this takes place at 5pm BST.

The session progresses through Q1, Q2 and Q3 as normal to find the fastest driver and determine the 1-20 order.

Who is credited with pole position?

Two 'race' starts over the weekend but only one official pole position for the record books - and that, as ever, goes to the driver who starts from the head of the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix.

That means the winner of F1 Sprint (provided he takes up his P1 grid spot on Sunday) is also the Italian GP pole-position holder.

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest qualifier back at Silverstone on the Friday but Max Verstappen then won the sprint race the day later, meaning he was credited with the official pole position.

Drivers who win the sprint, or who finish second and third, are not credited with race wins or podium finishes to their career statistics. But the achievement is still recognised by F1 after the race as, in a nod to the sport's history, the trio will be presented with wreaths and take part in a victory parade around the lap.

How many practice sessions are there?

There are only two practice sessions this weekend, one fewer than normal, each running to one hour in length as is now the case in F1 from this year.

Practice One starts on Friday at 1.30pm, with Practice Two at 11am on Saturday ahead of the sprint.

And the Grand Prix, is that unchanged on Sunday?

Designed to enhance the full weekend rather than take anything away from the main event on Sunday, the 53 laps of Italian Grand Prix around Monza are unchanged.

Lights out this year is at 2pm. Sky F1 build-up starts at 12.30pm.

The usual points apply for race day, that's 25 for the victory (or a maximum of 26 if the winner nabs the fastest lap too) down to one point for 10th place.

The only difference is that drivers who start in the top 10 are not locked into starting on the tyre they set their best time in Q2 on. Everyone therefore has a free choice throughout the race, although the usual two-compound rules apply in a dry race which guarantee at least one pit stop per car.

No changes otherwise.

Where else will F1 Sprint weekends take place in 2021?

A final sprint weekend is expected for the Brazilian GP at Interlagos for November 12-14.

F1 will then assess the results of the three sprint weekends, see what worked and what didn't, and if the format is generally deemed to have been a success then it is likely to be expanded for 2022 and added to certain marque events to create what motorsport chief Ross Brawn has termed Formula 1's equivalent of 'Grand Slams'.

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