The 2022 F1 Imola GP will be the first race of the season to feature sprint qualifying. The format was introduced last season with positive reviews as it brought a sense of variability in terms of action. The sprint qualifying was trialed in three races- British GP, Italian GP, and Brazilian GP.
All of these races ended up having some epic wheel-to-wheel action, be it between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the British GP, Hamilton's poor start in the Italian GP, or his marauding drive through the field in the Brazilian GP. This time around, the sprint qualifying format makes its debut at the Imola GP.
What is the format for the sprint race weekend?
The sprint qualifying weekend format is slightly different from the usual race weekend. During the sprint qualifying weekend, Friday will first feature a free practice session. Then, instead of FP2, there will be a qualifying session to determine the grid for the F1 sprint on Saturday.
On Saturday, teams will get a free practice session, followed by the F1 Sprint in the evening. It will be a 100-km dash without any mandatory tire change/pitstop. Results from the F1 Sprint will determine the grid for the race on Sunday.
What has changed from the 2021 F1 season?
As compared to last season, there are some changes to the format, the first of which concerns the pole position. In the 2021 season, pole position was awarded to the driver who won the F1 Sprint. Owing to this, Max Verstappen got the pole position in the British GP while Bottas picked up the pole position at Monza and Sao Paulo.
This time around, the pole position will be awarded to the driver who tops the qualifying session on Friday and starts on pole for the sprint on Saturday.
The other change with probably bigger implications will be the points distribution system for the sprint. Instead of points being awarded to only the top 3 drivers last season, this year points will be awarded to the top 8 finishers. The driver who finishes P1 will get 8 points, and then every consequent finisher will get one less point until the 8th position driver getting 1 point.
How many races will have the Sprint race weekend?
This season, just like the 2021 season, there will be 3 races with the sprint format. Last season, it was the British GP, Italian GP, and Brazilian GP. This time around, it's the Imola GP, Austrian GP, and the Brazilian GP.