British Grand Prix: Top three in F1 Sprint qualifying to be awarded wreaths

Formula One drivers of old were given large laurel wreaths to wear on the podium but they had the disadvantage of covering the team and sponsor branding and the tradition was ended in the 1980s.

Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio holds a bottle and wears a laurel wreath after his victory in the Syracuse Grand Prix, in Syracuse, Italy, April 15, 1956.   -  AP

The top three finishers in a new Sprint qualifying race that debuts at the British Grand Prix on Saturday will be awarded old-style laurel wreaths in the absence of any podium celebrations.

The 100km Sprint will set the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix at Silverstone and, although some points will be awarded to the top three, there will be no formal podium to avoid detracting from the main event.

None of the drivers will be credited with a podium or race win but they will get a victory parade in front of the fans and be presented with specially-designed wreaths to wear around their necks.

"F1 Sprint is a brand-new and exciting format, so we felt it was important to come up with a post-race moment that was equally special," said Alex Molina, Formula One's Director of Event Spectacle.

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"The moment recognises the seven decades of history in the sport and combines it with a modern twist -- very similar to the Sprint itself."

Formula One drivers of old were given large laurel wreaths to wear on the podium but they had the disadvantage of covering the team and sponsor branding and the tradition was ended in the 1980s.

Britain's seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton is chasing a record-extending eighth British Grand Prix win this weekend but Red Bull's Max Verstappen is 32 points clear after nine races.

WHAT IS THE SPRINT RACE?

The Saturday event, organisers are calling either 'Sprint Qualifying' or 'F1 Sprint' is the eye-catching innovation, but its introduction has a knock-on effect which will be noticable from the start of the weekend.

Friday will open as usual with a practice, but it has been moved to the afternoon.

It is followed by "qualifying", switched from Saturday afternoon to early Friday evening to give "the first day of track action some gravitas and a crescendo event," said the F1 web site. The later start is designed to make it easier for viewers who work to watch.

Instead of deciding the grid for the main race, qualifying will sort out the starting order for a mini-race on Saturday afternoon.

The Sprint will last 25-30 minutes and be run over 100km, which at Silverstone means 17 laps. That compares with 52 laps and just over 306km for the race itself on Sunday.

(With inputs from AFP)

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