Formula 1 bosses have approved an overhaul of the sport’s weekend format, first revealed three weeks ago, starting with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The six sprint races of the 2023 season, the first of which takes place this weekend in Baku, will see the introduction of a second qualifying session after the renewal gained the support of all ten teams on the grid on April 25.
Under the changes, a new separate qualifying session on Saturday morning will determine the starting order for that afternoon’s sprint race, while Friday’s qualifying will determine the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
What are the changes in the Sprint race?
Saturday’s additional qualifying session will be called the “Sprint Shootout” and will be shorter than the usual format. The three sessions will be 12, ten and eight minutes long, with the intention that the shorter final race will add more risk.
Qualifying for the Grand Prix itself remains the same, with no changes to Sunday’s main event.
The changes will apply to the other five sprint rounds in Austria, Belgium, Qatar, Austin and Brazil this year, while the regular Grand Prix weekend will remain as is.
The F1 Commission voted unanimously in favor of changes to the sprint format. These changes will take effect at the first sprint race of the season.
Following the success of this vote and subsequent approval by the World Motor Sport Council, all stakeholders believe this will enhance the spectacle of sprint weekends and improve the on-track action for fans around the world.”
History of the F1 sprint race
The sprint format, which is one-third the distance of a normal grand prix, was first introduced for three rounds in 2021, and has been doubled to six this year.
World champion Max Verstappen has been critical of Formula One’s plans to extend the sprint calendar – saying at the latest round in Australia that he “won’t be around for long” if there are “too many changes”.
But Formula One bosses are keen to appeal to the sport’s new generation of fans, and say the changes will provide three days of racing, rather than two, while reducing three hours of largely meaningless practice to a single hour.
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