F1 Sprint: Teams set for crucial vote on Saturday races in 2022 amid stalemate over costs
Eight of the 10 teams need to pass Formula 1's plans for sprint races in 2022 - but McLaren boss Zak Brown says many teams want more money added to the cost cap; The latest on the dispute, the format and the vote ahead of a busy February pre-season
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 19/01/22 5:13pm
Formula 1 may have to abandon plans to stage Sprint events this season due to an ongoing stand-off over costs, with teams set for a crucial vote on the format appearing on the schedule.
F1, encouraged by the Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos experiments from last year, had wanted to double the amount of Saturday sprint races from three to six in 2022, increasing the action over a Grand Prix weekend.
But their plans are yet to be approved, and the teams they need approval from are still locked in a dispute over money.
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McLaren boss Zak Brown - who has slammed some teams' pleas for more money being added to F1's cost cap as "ridiculous" and "nonsense" - says F1 is facing a fight against time to resolve the impasse.
With the season just two months away, F1 require at least eight of the 10 teams to agree on the details before they can push ahead.
Sky Sports understands sprint races will need to be passed by an e-vote, which will take place before pre-season testing begins on February 23. The season starts on March 20 in Bahrain, where F1 had hoped to run a Sprint.
Why are the sprint races at risk for 2022?
The sprint format debuted in 2021, bringing a shorter Saturday race to three weekends to set the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix. The British, Italian and Brazilian GPs all turned out to be hugely dramatic and exciting events.
It also coincided with F1's new yearly cost cap, which was introduced to help level the playing field between the teams with bigger resources and the rest, improving the competitiveness and fairness on track.
The link between sprints and a cost cap is that these extra races essentially give teams another risk of car damage, which in many cases would mean they needed to spend part of their cost-cap budget - which ideally is used for improvements to their cars - to fix.
Last year, teams were given a small extra allowance for sprint races in case of crashes and damage.
However, it has been claimed that some teams believe this allowance - believed to be more than $500,000 - was not enough, and would need much more of an increase on the $140m (£103m) budget cap this year.
McLaren boss Brown wrote in a passionate column this week that "some teams still look for excuses to raise the cost cap and win world championships with chequebooks".
"Teams continue to demand a raise to the cost cap by an inordinate amount of money, despite the clear evidence that little damage was incurred during these races last year, in a thinly veiled attempt to protect from their competitive advantage being eroded," he stated.
Brown then added to reporters, per The Race: "A couple teams - one team in particular - wanted a $5m budget cap increase, which was just ridiculous with no rational facts behind it.
"And then when you challenge those facts, they then go, 'Yeah, but what if and what could and you've got to have it just in case'. And you just sit there and you go, 'It's just nonsense'."
Brown's comments offer a not-so-thinly-veiled hint that it is one of F1's bigger teams - who are already thought to be right up against the cost cap with their spending - who would like more money added.
F1's current governance structure dictates that for the rules to change in a calendar year, eight of the 10 teams must back the idea.
With so little time before a vote and with more than one team thought to be pushing for more money, F1 may have to find a compromise if they are going to get the green light for their sprint races.
For rules to change the following year, only five of the teams need to agree. Brown said he believes F1 should therefore first try to push through sprint races for 2023 first before voting on 2022.
"I think we should go ahead and lock in now for '23 with no budget cap raise at all, if you want to be hard about it," he stated.
"And then maybe either there can be a compromise made and we can raise it a little bit when we go ahead and start in '22. Or we skip '22 - and I think a couple of these teams should have to explain to the fans why there's no sprint races."
F1 earmarked Bahrain, Imola, Montreal, Austria, Zandvoort and Interlagos as potential venues for sprint races.
The sport's president and CEO Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports F1 last year: "I can say we will not go everywhere with the Sprint qualy format. It is something we want to keep for one third of the races more or less and to connect with a certain different way of giving rewards and points and to connect with specific circuits that as you know would make the difference.
"So there is a lot of food for thought. We will involve all the stakeholders: broadcasters, drivers, teams, promoters and fans. We won't forget our role is to take the right decision and to consider all the points and points of view of everyone."