The teams have unanimously backed a proposal from commercial rights holder F1 to double the number of sprint races to six next year but the FIA said in a statement it was “still evaluating” the proposal, with sources accusing the governing body of ‘greed’
Last Updated: 27/04/22 11:26am
The FIA’s delay in approving plans to double the number of sprint races in F1 from 2023 has created a major split at the top of the sport, with the governing body being accused of ‘greed’.
There are currently three sprints on the calendar for 2022, the first of which came at last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola where reigning world champion Max Verstappen claimed victory.
The teams have unanimously backed a proposal from commercial rights holder F1 to hold six sprints next year but, after a Formula One Commission meeting on Tuesday, the FIA said in a statement that it was “still evaluating the impact of the proposal on its trackside operations and personnel”.
Sources have told Sky Sports’ Craig Slater that “unjustifiable financial requests” are behind the FIA’s decision to block the vote.
“The word ‘greed’ was actually used to me,” Slater told Sky Sports News. “And a couple of teams said that, in their view, the FIA do not incur significant extra costs by replacing a practice session with a sprint event. They’re shocked that the FIA has taken this position.”
He added: “What we’ve had at this Formula One Commission meeting is a very significant split at the very highest level of Formula One.
“Among the subjects discussed was increasing the number of sprints to six next year. Formula One, the sport’s commercial rights holder, was in favour of that – there was unanimity among the 10 teams in favour of that as well – but it has not happened because the FIA cannot support it at this point.
“F1 and the teams have seen how the sprint increased TV audiences and view it attractive to younger fans. They hope it could gain independent sponsorship and become an even bigger revenue stream.
“A number of senior figures at the meeting also told me they were bemused at FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s general attitude. They felt he was more interested in talking about issues like drivers wearing jewellery than some of the major concerns confronting F1. There is growing concern he is not aligned with F1’s direction of travel.”
The FIA has told Sky Sports that the organisational requirements for a Sprint weekend are significantly higher and that it is far from a simple swap for a Free Practice session. It claims it is similar to adding another race given the associated checks, parc ferme requests and monitoring required. It is only prepared to proceed with the increase if it is adequately resourced. They issued a reminder that the FIA is a non profit making organisation.
F1 sprints take place on a Saturday with the finishing order setting the grid for the next day’s grand prix.
The remaining sprints this year will take place at the Austrian Grand Prix in July and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.
The format was first introduced last season with championship points awarded for the first three finishers. That has been extended to the top eight for 2022.