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F1 offers compromise plan for three sprints in 2022

Formula 1 bosses are pushing for a compromise solution of hosting just three sprint race events in 2022, amid the ongoing dispute over costs.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, and the rest of the field at the start

After a successful trial of three sprints last year, F1 owners Liberty Media had planned to expand the offering and run the Saturday qualifying races at six grands prix in 2022.

These were scheduled to be at the season opener in Bahrain, then Imola, Canada, Austria, the Netherlands and Brazil.

However, discussions about the sprint race format hit a snag over the winter amid resistance from the top teams over the finances of what was being offered.

F1 had offered a compensation package for the extra sprints that was a straight $500,000 allowance for the first five events, and then an extra $150,000 for each event beyond that.

For the original plan of six sprints, this effectively meant an extra $2.65 million for each team.

However, unlike in 2021, there would be no extra allowance in the cost cap for crash damage, as the evidence of last year showed that it was not really necessary.

While a majority of teams were happy with the offer from Liberty, F1's big spenders were against the proposal and instead wanted the cost cap limit to be raised to cover all the costs of the sprints.

It emerged that one team even made a push for the cost cap limit to be raised by up to $5 million, which drew criticism from McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

Brown said recently: "One team in particular wanted a $5 million budget cap increase, which was just ridiculous, and had no rational facts behind it."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL35, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35, and Sergio Perez, Racing Point RP20, at the start

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL35, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35, and Sergio Perez, Racing Point RP20, at the start

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The idea of lifting the cost cap does not have support outside F1's top three squads, which has left talks at a bit of an impasse because a rule change over sprints needs support from eight teams.

Ahead of the February 14 meeting of the F1 Commission, Liberty has put forward a compromise package that will cut back on the idea of having six sprints and instead mean there will be maximum of three.

It is understood that Liberty, the FIA and the majority of teams will not support any proposal for the cost cap to be lifted, meaning that the fate of the sprints is now dependent on finding a deal next week.

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While F1 remains eager long term for there to be up to six sprints, it does accept that with teams facing struggles to get to grips with the new cars in 2022, then a halfway house of three would still be good for fans who liked the sprints.

But, without the support of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, there remains a chance that F1 could have to abandon the sprint race idea completely.

It is understood that no decision has yet been made about where the three sprints would take place if the plan is given the green light.

According to documents circulated to teams last year, F1 estimated that the addition of six sprint races in 2022 would lift the sport's revenues by around $10 million thanks to commercial and broadcast opportunities, with this being shared with the teams.

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