The news was already known by everybody, but now it has been officially confirmed: the Italian Grand Prix will be the host of the second sprint qualifying test event, as Formula 1 announced a revised schedule for the weekend. The format was debuted at Silverstone last weekend, and the second running of sprint qualifying will take place at the ‘Temple of Speed’ over the weekend of 10-12 September.
Monza, the fastest track on the Formula 1 calendar, had long been mooted as a host circuit for sprint qualifying, and the news was officially confirmed on Thursday evening as an 18-lap dash will take place on the Saturday.
Top Formula 1 staff such as Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn were pleased with what they saw in the first sprint qualifying test, but Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have already suggested that tweaks should be made to improve the spectacle.
A changed weekend structure will mirror that of the British Grand Prix too, despite criticism of the timing that effectively neutralised the second practice session – as all cars were running in Parc Ferme condition.
Nonetheless, the weekend will take place as follows (all times in local time):
Friday 10 September
Free practice 1: 2.30pm-3.30pm (1.30pm-2.30pm BST)
Qualifying: 6pm-7pm (5pm-6pm BST)
Saturday 11 September
Free practice 2: 12noon-1pm (11am-12noon BST)
Sprint qualifying: 4.30pm-5pm (3.30pm-4pm BST)
The first running of sprint qualifying received generally positive reviews in the Formula 1 fan community and, with the second of three test events now confirmed, another litmus test of the proposed new format is not too far away.
The shortened format saw significant changes to Sunday’s starting grid at Silverstone, with Max Verstappen leapfrogging Hamilton to take pole position, alongside a sterling drive from Alonso to put his Alpine inside the top 10 for the race.
The Italian Grand Prix was an eventful one last season, as Pierre Gasly was the unlikely winner in taking his first ever Formula 1 race win, finishing ahead of Carlos Sainz’s McLaren in an action-packed weekend around Monza.
Formula 1 have stated that the third venue for sprint qualifying will be a ‘flyaway’ race away later on in the season, but it will be announced later in the year.