F1 teams to vote on whether Saturday sprint races will take place of qualifying

Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent

Formula One teams will hold a vote on Thursday to determine whether sprint races should be introduced to grand prix weekends.

F1 bosses have put forward the idea of a shorter race on Saturday, which would replace qualifying, and determine the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

The new format could be trialled at this season’s Canadian, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix.

Eight of the 10 teams will need to vote in favour of the idea on Thursday to turn the concept into reality.

F1 chiefs are keen to shake up the format of a grand prix weekend which currently sees two practice sessions on Friday, followed by a third on Saturday ahead of qualifying.

The second practice session on Friday would be replaced by qualifying to make up the grid for Saturday’s proposed shortened race.

It is expected that the top eight drivers in the sprint race would be awarded points which will count towards the championship.

Testing for the new season takes place in Bahrain in the second week of March, with Lewis Hamilton, who earlier this week agreed a one-year extension with Mercedes, set to begin his bid for an unprecedented eighth world championship in the Gulf Kingdom a fortnight later.

Meanwhile, F1 bosses have rubber-stamped an arrangement for Portugal to host the third round of the season on May 2.

There had been doubts over the grand prix, with F1 exploring the possibility of starting the season by staging consecutive races in Bahrain.

But it is understood teams will be told at Thursday’s meeting that the sport will return to Portimao for a second straight season after the venue made its debut on the calendar last year.

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