F1 To Trial Sprint Races This Season and Engine Development To Be Frozen From 2022

Following a meeting of the F1 commision today, it has been confirmed that there will be a trial of three sprint races during the 2021 season. All 10 teams have agreed to the trial, which has proven to be vastly more popular than the ‘reverse grid’ idea proposed last year.

Written By Ian Bruce, Edited By Joe Kirk

The races set to hold the sprint races have not been confirmed as of yet, but they are believed to be Canada, Monza and Sao Paulo. F1 and FIA released a joint statement today stating, “All teams recognise the major importance of engaging fans in new and innovative ways to ensure an even more exciting weekend format.”

We have no formal details as yet, but there is a proposed idea of what the format of the weekend may look like. Qualifying for the sprint would take place on the Friday, replacing FP2, with the race itself occuring on the Saturday. The sprint race would probably only be one-third of a normal race distance, with the results of the race determining the grid order for the main event on Sunday. It is expected that half points will be awarded for the race, with possibly only the top 8 positions earning points. 

None of this is confirmed yet, but we can expect to hear final plans before the first round in Bahrain in March.

Another big development to come out of today’s meeting is the confirmation of the planned engine freeze from 2022. The freeze is happening one year earlier than planned and will run until the 2025 season.

This is a big win for Red Bull and it’s sister team, Alpha Tauri, as they will no longer have to either build their own engines or find a new supplier. With engine development being frozen at the end of this season, Honda will be allowed to further push development on their already impressive, so that RB and AT will not be too disadvantaged from 2022 onwards.

However, there are still details to be worked out. For example, currently there is no system in place to balance out the performance of the current engines at the end of the ‘21 season. Were a constructor to find that, at the end of the season, their engine is performing far below the level of its competitors, they may not be allowed to make changes and could be forced to live with those issues until 2025.

The new engine regulations are yet to be confirmed, but the F1 commission did lay out their goals for 2025:

  • Environmental Sustainability and social and automotive relevance
  • Fully sustainable fuel
  • Creating a powerful and emotive Power Unit
  • Significant cost reduction
  • Attractiveness to new Power Unit manufacturers

Due to the new chassis and aerodynamic regulations coming into force next year, engine changes may be at the bottom of the list for most teams. I would expect many teams to restrict engine development to only this year, as they already have a good understanding of the current cars. For the next 5 years, after the freeze, it should be interesting to watch teams have to work their aerodynamic and chassis packages harder, to circumvent any losses from their engines.

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