Formula 1 has approved its plans for a revision of the sprint format. There will be two qualifying sessions for the coming weekend in Azerbaijan, one for the sprint on Saturday and one for the race Sunday.
Qualifying on Friday will take place in the usual format, but will now determine the starting grid for race Sunday. The Sprint Saturday will thus now be a standalone event, with a separate qualifying session on Saturday morning determining the starting grid for the Sprint.
However, the drivers and teams in Saturday’s qualifying, which is called “Sprint Shootout”, will be granted less time than usual and a fixed tire compound will also be prescribed. However, the normal Q1, Q2 and Q3 mode remains.
From “Sprint Shootout” with Q1, Q2 and Q3
The Q1 will be twelve minutes long using the medium tire. This is also mandatory in Q2, which, however, is only ten minutes long. The soft tire then has to be used in the eight-minute Q3.
The F1 statement read: “The sprint changes for Baku have been unanimously approved by the Commission. A WMSC vote will also take place today and will be completed around 16:00 UK time.”
“The changes to the sprint are based on feedback from fans, drivers, media and broadcasters to make this part a distinct part of the weekend and to address the issue of drivers holding their position in the main part of the sprint race to maintain their position for not to jeopardize the real Grand Prix.”
Sprint becomes an independent part of the weekend
“The data has shown that on Fridays when we have real action on track, there is a significant increase in ratings and engagement compared to practice. With the changes we will now have three days of competition versus two days under normal conditions.” the notification.
The point distribution of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the first eight riders in the sprint remains unaffected. With four out of five relevant sessions and only one free practice left, the teams will be put to the test to find their set-up for the remaining sessions in the first 60 minutes of the weekend, as the parc ferme rule already applies in Friday qualifying , which means that major changes to the vehicle settings are no longer possible.
The revised schedule for the weekend also addresses the previously largely redundant FT2 on Saturday, which no longer exists.
Lots of discussion about the tires
The use of tires in a sprint weekend has been the subject of much debate, as there are only twelve sets available instead of 13 and the hour of FT2 has been replaced with the shootout.
Another point of discussion was the allocation of driving penalties, as an attempt is made to make the sprint day independent of the Grand Prix. It was agreed that any penalties incurred in the sprint that are not served there will be carried over to the main race on Sunday.
As before, gearbox and engine penalties imposed this weekend will be saved for the Grand Prix. After Baku, five more sprint events will follow in Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the USA and Sao Paulo in 2023.