Formula 1 confirms immediate tweaks to the Sprint format

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Following Formula 1 Commission's recent meeting, the sport has confirmed changes to the sprint format which is set to come into force at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The sprint race was introduced in 2021 with the special format making appearance at three venues. 2022 saw three venues host the 100-km dash event on Saturday with the current season set to stage six sprint weekends. Baku is the first venue to feature the sprint format with Austria (Red Bull Ring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Qatar (Lusail Circuit), the United States (Circuit of The Americas) and Sao Paulo (Interlagos) the other F1 Sprint venues for 2023.

Following a throughout analysis, the sport is eager to make tweaks to the sprint weekend. The Saturday practice session has been welcomed by harsh criticism as drivers and team were not allowed to make any tweaks to their cars which were locked in parc fermé conditions. Another critical point was the the fact that drivers needed to race carefully in the sprint race as a dismal result would have negatively affected their starting position for the grand prix.

As a result of it, the sport has made tweaks to the sprint weekend with the outcome of the sprint no longer have any bearing on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

The Sprint will become a standalone element, with a qualifying session - to be called Sprint Shootout - to determine the grid for the Sprint. The outcome of the Sprint will therefore no longer determine the grid for the Grand Prix, with Qualifying for the Grand Prix taking place on Friday.

Fridays will now include an FP1 session and standard qualifying session to set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, while Saturdays will include the continuing 100km race with an additional, preceding qualifying session called the ‘Sprint Shootout’.

The shootout will be a shorter session than traditional qualifying, with SQ1 set to run for 12 minutes, SQ2 for 10 minutes and SQ3 for eight minutes, and replaces the previous FP2 seen on the Saturday morning of Sprint weekends. New tyres are mandatory for each phase, with mediums for SQ1 and SQ2, and softs for SQ3.

The revised sprint format will carry the same points system as last season with eight handed out to the winner, seven to second place, six to third and so on down to one in eighth – both drivers and teams will log points in their respective championships.

The way penalties are handed out have also been revised. A grid penalty incurred in P1 or Qualifying will apply to the Race while a grid penalty incurred in the Shootout will apply to the Sprint. However, a grid penalty incurred in the Sprint will apply to the Race.

A breach of parc fermé will result in a pitlane start for the Sprint and Race. Any penalties regarding the power unit will only apply to the Race (unless they are also a parc fermé breach).