With the new changes to the F1 Sprint weekends, Craig Slater explains why Sprint is crucial in deciding a Drivers Championship.
Formula 1 Sprint weekends have a new format for 2023 after changes were approved ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Ahead of the new format debuting in Baku, Sky Sports F1 explains what has changed.
How have Sprint weekends run up to now?
F1’s Sprint debuted in 2021 and saw the usual weekend format changed to introduce a second, shortened race to offer more wheel-to-wheel action, attempting to ensure each day of the Grand Prix weekend includes significant action.
It saw qualifying moved from Saturday afternoon to Friday evening, with the hour-long session setting the grid for the Sprint.
The result of the Sprint would then decide Sunday’s starting order – the driver who won the Sprint would start the Grand Prix on pole, if someone crashed out or retired with car trouble they’d be starting from the back.
The top eight positions in the Sprint scored points.
Practice One would take place on Friday afternoon before qualifying with Practice Two happening on Saturday morning ahead of the Sprint.
On the Sky Sports F1 Podcast Simon Lazenby examined the pros and cons of the Sprint race weekends
What’s changed for 2023?
The key change is that the result of Saturday’s shorter race will no longer set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, with that now being decided by Friday’s qualifying session.
Whoever is fastest on Friday evening will now start from pole on Sunday.
A new, separate shorter qualifying session – the Sprint Shootout – will now take place on Saturday morning, with Practice Two removed from the weekend schedule.
The Sprint, along with its own qualifying Shootout, is now essentially a separate entity from the main Grand Prix.
Why has there been a change?
In essence, to try and improve the entertainment and spectacle of the Sprint weekend.
With the Sprint no longer setting the Grand Prix grid, the hope is that it will encourage the drivers to be more attacking and take more risks during the 100km event given an incident would not compromise them on Sunday.
It also brings more meaning to Saturday morning. Under the old format, Saturday’s Practice Two session had essentially become redundant due to F1’s parc ferme rules – once cars leave the garage in qualifying on Friday, teams are unable to make any changes to their set-ups.
“The Saturday morning session was boring as hell,” Haas boss Guenther Steiner told the Sky Sports F1 Podcast. “It was boring for me, for the fans it was even more boring, so doing a qualifying session instead is good.”
The reduction to just one 60-minute practice session ahead of qualifying on Friday could also bring more jeopardy to the weekend, with teams having less time to understand tyre behaviour and set-up.
Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali discusses the possibility of scrapping practice, increasing the number of Sprint races and adding additional teams to the sport
How will the Sprint Shootout work?
The Sprint Shootout will follow the same three-session knockout format as usual qualifying, but each Q1, Q2 and Q3 segment has been shortened to address engine and tyre concerns the teams had.
SQ1 has been shortened from 18 minutes to 12 minutes.
SQ2 has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
SQ3 has been shortened from 12 minutes to eight minutes.
The aim is that each car would only have one flying lap in each session, although two runs could be done in SQ1 while SQ2 and SQ3 would allow time for two timed laps without a pitstop in between attempts.
The other significant difference between the Sprint Shootout and regular qualifying will be restrictions on tyre usage.
While teams are free to use any of their available tyres in regular qualifying, in the Sprint Shootout new sets of tyres will be mandatory in each of the three parts, with medium compounds in SQ1 and SQ2 followed by a switch to softs in SQ3.
How will grid penalties be applied?
Along with the announcement of the new format, clarification was also provided on how grid penalties will be applied during Sprint weekends.
Offences in Friday’s practice session or qualifying to be applied to the race, while penalties incurred in the Sprint Shootout will be applied to the Sprint.
A grid penalty resulting from an incident during the Sprint will be applied to Sunday’s race, while any breach of parc ferme will result in pit lane starts for both the Sprint and the Race.
Any grid penalties caused by breaching power unit limits will only apply to the race, unless their installation also represents a parc ferme breach.
What is the points system for the Sprint?
Points for the Sprint in 2023 remain unchanged from 2022.
A total of 36 points are on offer for the top eight finishers in Saturday’s race. The winner will collect eight points, second place will score seven points and this continues descending down to eighth (one point).
The increase in the number of Sprint weekends for 2023 means the points picked up on a Saturday could have an even bigger say on the destination of the world championships this year.
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Are there pit stops in the Sprint?
Pit stops are few and far between given how short a Sprint is.
Unlike the Grand Prix, there is no mandatory change of tyres required and, unless cars hit damage or puncture or it rains, don’t expect them to leave the action on track for the pit lane between lights out and the chequered flag.
Drivers are free to run on whatever tyre compound – hard, medium or soft – that they wish.
Where will Sprint weekends take place in 2023?
For 2023, F1 has doubled the number of Sprints from three – as held in 2021 and 2022 – to six.
The Azerbaijan GP hosts the first Sprint weekend on April 29, which will also be the first time the shorter race has been held on a street circuit.
F1 Sprint dates in 2023
|April 29||Azerbaijan GP|
|July 1||Austrian GP|
|July 29||Belgian GP|
|October 7||Qatar GP|
|October 21||US GP|
|November 4||Sao Paulo GP|
The Sprint will then return twice in July, with Austria’s Red Bull Ring hosting the format for a second year on July 1 before it features again at the Belgian GP on July 29 in the final round before F1’s summer break.
Qatar will host the fourth Sprint of the year on October 7 before the US GP’s Circuit of the Americas hosts its first Sprint weekend on October 21.
And Brazil’s Interlagos will continue its record of being the only circuit to host the format since its inception on November 4.
Who’s won the previous Sprints?
Check out the key moments from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint in 2022
The six previous Sprints held across 2021 and 2022 have seen three different drivers take victory.
Max Verstappen has won half of the Sprints held so far, coming home first at Silverstone in 2021 and at Imola and Austria last year.
Valtteri Bottas won the Sprint at Monza and Interlagos in 2021 while at Mercedes.
And George Russell claimed his first F1 win in the Sprint at Interlagos last year before going on to also claim the Grand Prix win on the Sunday.
The Formula 1 season resumes with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from April 28-30, with the first Sprint weekend of 2023 shown in full live on Sky Sports F1. Watch Saturday’s Sprint at 2:30pm and Sunday’s race at 12pm. Get Sky Sports
Source : https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12040/12864967/f1-sprint-how-new-2023-format-will-work-after-sprint-shootout-added-to-schedule?rand=3094