LiveScore’s Jim Munro gets you up to speed with the big talking points around the Formula 1 paddock ahead of the landmark 2021 British Grand Prix.
A capacity crowd at Silverstone will witness a brand new format for Formula 1, with qualifying on Friday evening, the first ever Sprint race on Saturday and more championship points up for grabs over the weekend.
1. When is qualifying and how does it work?
The traditional format of three elimination runs will take place on Friday evening rather than Saturday afternoon. The scheduled start for Q1 is 6pm British Summer Time.
The big difference is that this will determine the starting line-up for Saturday’s Sprint race, not the Grand Prix itself on Sunday.
Q1 will see all 20 drivers recording their fastest lap time during an 18-minute session with the slowest five dropping out. For Q2 the remaining 15 drivers have 15 minutes to set their best time, with the bottom five being eliminated. That will leave the top 10 to battle it out in the 12-minute Q3 run.
On a normal weekend, the top 10 qualifiers must begin the Grand Prix on the tyres they selected for Q2. At Silverstone teams will use the softest and fastest compound tyre available for all three qualifying runs (unless it’s raining) and it will not affect their starting tyres for the Sprint race.
2. What is the Formula 1 Sprint race?
With the exception of Monaco, the standard Grand Prix distance is 305km. The Sprint race is a new 100km dash which takes place the day before the Grand Prix.
Silverstone’s Sprint race is scheduled to begin on Saturday at 4.30pm BST.
The top three drivers will earn championship points and the result of the Sprint race will determine the starting grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix so there’s plenty to fight for. The winner of the Sprint race will collect three points, second place will earn two points while third place will receive one point.
The 100km Sprint race will be 17 laps of the Silverstone circuit with no mandatory pit stops and is expected to last around 30 minutes, subject to any interruptions from yellow or red flags.
There is a special celebration planned for the top three drivers, including the presentation of classic wreaths that were a familiar reward worn by stars of yesteryear.
3. So no pit stops?
It’s unlikely that all 20 cars will negotiate 17 laps of Silverstone safely without some needing attention because of damaged bodywork or flat tyres, but there are no mandatory pit stops.
Teams can use whatever tyre compound they choose from soft, medium or hard, though the typical British summer weather may intervene with a burst of rain, forcing a quick change onto wets.
4. What’s happening with the practice sessions?
Ordinarily there would be two free practice sessions on a Friday and a third ahead of qualifying on Saturday. At Silverstone there will be just two free practice sessions.
The race weekend begins on Friday with FP1 at 2pm BST with Sprint race qualifying on Friday evening.
FP2 takes place at mid-day on Saturday before the afternoon’s Sprint race.
5. Will Sunday’s British Grand Prix feature any changes?
Some traditions you just don’t mess with. The 2021 F1 British Grand Prix will be run over 52 laps as we’ve come to expect, with the race due to begin at 3pm BST.
Although teams will be free to send their drivers to the starting grid on whatever tyre compound they choose, they must still use at least two different types during the course of the race, ensuring each car will need to make at least one pit stop.
Championship points will be awarded in the normal fashion, with 25 points for the win and a declining scale of points awarded all the way down to 10th place, which receives one point.
An additional point can be earned for recording the fastest lap during the race, but only for those drivers finishing in the top 10.
6. Will there be two pole positions in the record books?
No. The driver who sets the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying session merely books his place at the front of the grid for the Sprint race.
The Sprint race effectively replaces Saturday qualifying, so it is the winner of this debut event who will officially claim pole position for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
2021 F1 British Grand Prix schedule
Friday, July 16
Free practice one – 2.30pm BST
Qualifying – 6pm
Saturday, July 17
Free practice two – 12pm
F1 Sprint – 4.30pm
Sunday, July 18
2021 F1 British Grand Prix – 3pm