Teams get clarity over Sprint Qualifying parc fermé rules

The full rules for this year’s sprint qualifying trials are set to be issued to teams following a meeting that took place at the Red Bull Ring on Thursday.

Formula 1 will experiment with the new format for the first time at this month’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Drivers will qualify for the 100km race on Friday afternoon and take part in the short 100km sprint qualifying event on Saturday.

But there remained a couple of concerns over the parc fermé regulations as the hands-off period for teams will start a day earlier, or before qualifying on Friday.

Several teams routinely conduct on Friday evening an operation called clutch shimming that extends the life of a clutch for the remainder of the weekends.

But if certain teams – namely Alpine, McLaren, Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo – cannot conduct the task due to parc fermé rules, they could be forced to forego the Saturday FP2 session in order to reduce mileage.

Other teams that use clutches that have a longer lifespan would therefore hold an advantage.

But in Thursday’s meeting it was agreed that there would be no exemption for clutch shimming during parc fermé, but a team will be allowed to fit a new clutch if it can present data to the FIA that indicates excessive wear. It was also be obligated to hand over its old clutch to the governing body to prove that the change was necessary.

A second point of concern for teams was the ability to change a car’s underside plank before qualifying in order to avoid a penalty for excessive wear.

But the FIA has stood by its initial parc fermé rule, meaning teams will not be able to change the plank after Friday’s qualifying.

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Finally, F1 boss Ross Brawn revealed that sprint qualifying winners will be officially credited with pole position in F1’s historical statistics.

The initial plan was to consider the driver who was fastest in Friday’s qualifying session as the official pole winner.

“I probably have to correct something I’ve said before because initially we thought it would still be the Friday qualifying,” Brawn said when queried on the issue this week.

“But, in fact, after discussions with the FIA, they feel pole position is the guy in front of the grid for the grand prix.

“So it’s the person who finishes a sprint in first place, it’s the one who is on the front of the grid and has pole position for the race, the grand prix, on a Sunday. And that’s what we’ll count statistically towards the number of poles, because it is the sprint qualifying.

“That’s one of the reasons the FIA want it covered that way, so that we can ensure that the race is the race, the grand prix is the grand prix. And we don’t cannibalise the grand prix.”

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