F1 101: What is Sprint Qualifying?

At the Portuguese Grand Prix 2021, the racers had to undergo a sprint qualifier along with the traditional qualifying round

In the third racing session of the Formula One 2021 season, the Portuguese Grand Prix witnessed the introduction of a new qualifying format. Apart from the traditional qualifying session, a sprint qualifying round was added to make the race weekend more exciting. The Portuguese Grand Prix is not the only session where the sprint qualifying round was added but, in the days to come, two other racing sessions will allow the sprint qualifying round. For those unversed souls who are unaware of the newly made sprint qualifying round, we have drafted an overview of the format.

Sprint qualifying- The sprint qualifying round is a new qualifying round where drivers race each other for over 100kms. Usually, the race time varies from 25 minutes to 35 minutes where racers race each other without entering the pit lanes for pitstops. However, drivers may enter the lanes if they need to. The winner of the race will receive three points, followed by two points to the second-place holder and one to the third finisher.

What happened to the traditional qualifier? – The traditional qualifier was held as it is held in every racing session. On Friday morning, the racers took part in a 60-minute practice session. In the same afternoon, the racers took part in the three qualifier sessions. Depending on their performances during the qualifiers, the racers were awarded the grid positions for the sprint qualifying session. On Saturday morning, the racers took part in the 60-minute second practice session and finally, on Saturday afternoon, the sprint qualifier round was held. On Sunday, the full Grand Prix race was held.

Tyre rules- Since the qualifying sessions were changed, the rules related to tyres were also changed. For the Friday 60-minute practice session, the drivers allotted two sets of tyres and for the afternoon qualifier rounds; they were allotted five sets. For the Saturday morning 60-minute second practice session, one set of tyres was allocated to the drivers whereas one more set for the sprint qualifying round. The teams were given the freedom to choose the compound of the tyres as per their requirements. Last but not least, two remaining sets of tyres were provided to the drivers for the final Grand Prix race of Sunday.

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