GP Blog's Formula 1 Sprint Race grades

GP Blog's Formula 1 Sprint Race grades

07-12-2022 13:19

In 2021 Formula 1 took the big step to introduce a new format to the race weekend, in the form of the Formula 1 Sprint. After two years of the format which has seen three races each season, the F1 Sprint will expand to six races in 2023. Whether you like it or not it is here to stay, but so far which races have been a bust and which ones have been a success?

2021 British Grand Prix - 7/10

The original sprint race, the British Grand Prix sprint race gave us a taste of what was to come and a hint at the potential of the format without revealing too much. Max Verstappen started P2 but overtook Lewis Hamilton at the start of the race, holding onto the lead for all 17 laps, and we all know what followed next.

Fernando Alonso was the best example of what the format could offer, going from P11 to P5 on the opening lap. There was plenty of drama as well with contact between George Russell and Carlos Sainz resulting in a penalty for the former and there was drama at Haas as Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin collided, whilst Sergio Perez also went for a spin. 

Overall it was a good introduction to the format and it wetted fans' appetite for the next one at Monza.

2021 Italian Grand Prix - 3/10

If the British Grand Prix was a good advert for the F1 Sprint, the Italian Grand Prix was the polar opposite. Sergio Perez described it as "boring" and Fernando Alonso was another voice opposing the format. Valtteri Bottas led every lap from pole and won the race and the only bit of drama was Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo's collision which was deemed a racing incident. After the first lap the top eight stayed exactly the same.

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix - 9/10

Interlagos always delivered and the sprint race was no different in 2021 as Formula 1 got what it had been crying out for when they confirmed sprint races would be a thing in 2021. 

Max Verstappen had the opportunity to take a strangle hold on the title race but Valtteri Bottas stormed in front and led for his second sprint win of the season with Verstappen settling for second place. 

However the big story was Lewis Hamilton who started in 20th due to a qualifying infringement made his way from 20th to to 5th in just 24 laps, marking a truly magnificent display. It was damage limitation for Hamilton who was also given a penalty in the main race (started P10) for an engine change but the Brit was on a charge from lap one in the main race. From tenth the Mercedes man won the Sao Paulo Grand Prix making it one of his best ever victories, but it was all setup by his display on Saturday.

The Sprint Race at Interlagos benefitted from the circumstances but it was the perfect example of what the format offered.

2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - 6/10

There were initially plans for six Sprint Races in 2022 before the FIA cut back due to concerns over damage and rising costs with the cost cap, but the F1 Sprint finally arrived in 2022 at Imola.

There was drama at either end of the race with Charles Leclerc quickly passing Verstappen for the lead, and he tried to push his car to establish a lead against the quicker Red Bull. However, that would come back to haunt Leclerc as he suffered from graining, and on lap 19, just two from the finish line, Verstappen passed the Monegasque with DRS for the victory. 

Mercedes' lack of early season pace was clear as they finished outside the points. Outside of the start and the finish the race failed to deliver any action of note prompting more frustration.

2022 Austrian Grand Prix - 7/10

The Red Bull Ring is a notoriously strong track, for... You guessed it Red Bull so it was no surprise when Max Verstappen led from pole to win the F1 Sprint at Red Bull's home track. With Verstappen off in the distance Ferrari had no choice but to scrap it out between themselves and Carlos Sainz made the initial overtake on Charles Leclerc at turn one but the Monegasque would fight back to eventually finish second. Ferrari's main man would do the business the following day with an emphatic victory.

8/10 would seem a bit high for just that but in truth there was something for everyone across the grid. Lando Norris and Alex Albon had an on track scrap, with the latter forcing the McLaren off the track, recieving a five second penalty in the process. Albon was then involved in a crash with Sebastian Vettel which ultimately forced him to retire from the sprint. Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly made contact early on with the Frenchman spinning as a result but both cars managed to carry on.

The TV cameras may not have picked up on everything but if you managed to keep up there was plenty going on and in my opinion another positive advert for the F1 Sprint.

2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix - 8/10

Shock Sao Paulo delivers again... Kevin Magnussen was already a shock polesitter which spiced things up nicely heading into the race. He made this count for all of two laps as he held the lead but ultimately the slower Haas would finish P8 just inside the points. Verstappen would pass the Dane and went head to head with George Russell with Mercedes in contention for the first time in 2022. 

Ocon and Alonso went toe to toe on lap one and it ended in tears as the pair collided causing damage and debris to spread across the track. The pair came to blows on lap 14 with the Spaniard running into the back of his teammate as he tried to make a move, causing damage to his front wing. Alonso would pit relegating him to the back of the field.

That debris would be costly for Verstappen as he started to experience tyre degradation and suspected damage to his undertray due to running over debris caused by the Alonso-Ocon collision. This loss of pace allowed George Russell to overtake for the lead on lap 15, a position he would never relinquish. Verstappen would also be passed by Carlos Sainz, and Lewis Hamilton with contact from the Ferrari damaging his front wing. He'd finish fourth.

2021 average score: 6.33

2022 average score: 7

2022 might have had the higher score, but 2021 certainly had the high point with the Sao Paulo Grand Prix delivering. However, it certainly had its lows with the Italian Grand Prix failing pretty miserably. The changes 2022 made with more points on offer has helped make it more of an attractive proposition for teams, and given the circumstances it has delivered some excellent action. There's a lot to do and plenty of room for improvement, I think a reverse grid would add an extra element to it. However, the format is here to stay and hopefully it can provide plenty of action as we increase to six races.

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