Formula One could award points for Saturday sprint races


FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - 70th Anniversary Grand Prix - Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain - August 9, 2020 Cars on the grid before the warm up lap Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One could award championship points for Saturday 'sprint' races this season under a proposal to be discussed by bosses on Thursday.

The shorter races would set the starting grid for the main grand prix on Sunday if the Formula One commission votes in favour of the format.

Qualifying for the sprint race would be on Friday instead of second practice.

The commission includes the 10 teams, commercial rights holders Liberty Media and the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA).

The BBC reported that the top eight drivers in the sprint race, lasting an hour and about a third of the distance of a regular race, would earn roughly half the points awarded in a grand prix.

To become reality, the proposal would need the backing of eight teams. A previous plan to hold sprint races with reversed grids failed to win approval.

One team source told Reuters the plan was to trial the shortened race at three grand prix weekends -- Canada, Brazil and Monza in Italy -- although the calendar could yet change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Formula One's current format is for two practice sessions on Friday, followed by a third on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.

The change is aimed at creating more excitement through increased track action.

New Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali said last week that the sprint format was being considered.

"We are thinking if this could be tested already this year," he told reporters. "Discussions are going on with the teams in the right forum."

Formula One's motorsport managing director Ross Brawn last month told the racefans.net website that he would like to see some weekends follow a different format to gauge responses without committing the whole championship to change.

The BBC said a sticking point to the latest plan was that the potential cost of damage to the cars in the sprint race exceeded the extra money being offered by Formula One to the teams.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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