F1 keen to change controversial pole stat rule for 2022 - The Race
Formula 1

F1 keen to change controversial pole stat rule for 2022

Nov 1 2021

F1 sporting director Ross Brawn shares the “broad opinion” that Friday qualifying should determine who is credited with official pole position during sprint race weekends, and is “optimistic” about the change being approved for next year.

Determining the pole position holder for the sake of the record books has emerged as a discussion point following F1’s introduction of the sprint race format – under which timed qualifying moves to Friday and a shorter-length Saturday race is added to the weekend – in 2021.

This year, F1 has opted to recognise the winner of the Saturday sprint as the pole position holder, guided by the fact that the driver in question is the one who starts the main event from first place – ‘pole position’.

However, this decision has proven contentious with those believing that an F1 pole is supposed to reflect single-lap prowess – with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas all expressing their belief Friday qualifying should be what counts for the pole statistic.

At Silverstone, Hamilton topped Friday qualifying but was passed by Verstappen in the sprint race, with Verstappen recording pole position.

At Monza, the same driver – Bottas – headed both the Friday qualifying and the sprint, yet Bottas was also not credited with pole as he had a back-of-the-grid penalty applied.

On Wednesday, Brawn said there was an agreement in principle to have the sprint format return for six events in 2022 – and subsequently addressed the situation with the pole statistic.

“Personally I think we definitely need to look at it,” said Brawn. “That’s been a consistent comment amongst fans and media and drivers, et cetera – that the person who does the fastest single lap with low fuel in that competition is the pole position holder.

“And I guess we hadn’t really considered that if I’m honest, when we set out this new format.

“Personally I’d like to see a reversion to that [topping timed qualifying] being pole position. You know, these things are decided with the FIA, and the teams.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Monza, Italy

“I think that’s there’s broad opinion that Friday should be pole position for the sprint weekends. So that’s something I would hope we could get through for next year.

“There is a governance procedure, as you know, it’s been modified under the last Concorde [to no longer require unanimity] but it [still] requires a decent majority to get those things through. But I’m optimistic on that one.”

Another aspect of the sprint weekend – and a more consequential one in sporting terms – that could be altered is the points system. The Saturday sprint currently awards points to its top three finishes on a 3-2-1 basis.

However, Brawn says that the initial proposal had been for it to award “around one-third of the points” of the main grand prix. This was ultimately not taken up “because the feeling was that we need to see how the sprint functions first before we allocated the points”.

Now that F1 is anticipating to have a larger share of sprint weekends in the calendar, Brawn expects that original points proposal to serve as “the starting point” for further discussions on what the sprint race should be worth in points.

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