Australian GP boss to discuss Sprint Qualifying with F1
By Mat Coch
Saturday 30th October, 2021 - 11:30am
The boss of the Australian Grand Prix will discuss Sprint Qualifying when he meets with Formula 1 head honchos next month.
Andrew Westacott reserved judgement when asked by Speedcafe.com whether next year’s Albert Park event would feature the all-new qualifying format.
First trialled at the British Grand Prix, the Sprint Qualifying weekend sees a revised schedule with opening practice on Friday followed by a traditional qualifying session later in the day.
Saturday begins with Free Practice 2 ahead of the 100km competitive encounter which determines the final grid for Sunday’s race.
“I’m going to be talking about it with Formula 1 during November,” Westacott told Speedcafe.com.
“It’s not something that I’ve had dialogue, the most important dialogue was getting agreement and making sure that everything was there for the calendar.
“Now that that’s done, when Formula 1’s got a lot on their plate, because obviously they’re in a triple-header now with Austin, Mexico, and Brazil.
“But we’ll be having dialogue with them about formats and everything else.”
It’s already expected the race will begin early, owing to the later date and earlier sunset given daylight savings ends the week prior to the April 10 race.
Sprint Qualifying has, thus far, been trialled twice; in Silverstone and again at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
A third trial is scheduled for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix next month ahead of an expected expansion of the concept next season.
F1 boss Stefano Domenicali has stated his desire for as many as seven Sprint Qualifying events in 2022.
The format has proved popular among promoters as it offers increased interest across all days of the event, with a competitive aspect to both Friday and Saturday.
Albert Park last hosted the sport in 2019, the 2020 race having been cancelled before (F1) cars headed out on track.
Since then, the circuit has been modified with changes to apex radii and widths in key locations.
The Turn 9/10 complex has also been straight-lined, officially reducing the corner count at the Melbourne venue and adding the likelihood of a fourth DRS zone.
Changes have also been made in pit lane, which has been widened by two metres, with hopes that will result in the pit lane speed limit increasing from 60km/h to 80km/h.
“The DRS zones get signed off much closer to the lead up of the event,” Westacott explained.
“Everything indicates, through the great simulation work that Formula 1 has done, that there will be a fourth DRS.
“In the same way, the indication would be that the pit lane speed limit goes from 60(km/h) to 80(km/h).
“But Michael Masi is F1 race director, and the FIA guys and F1 guys don’t decide that until a lot closer to the event.
“And I can understand that also, to a greater degree in the context of the new cars coming up for 2022.”