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A New Era of Racing: Unveiling F1’s Updated Sprint Weekend Format



F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023

Formula 1 is revving up for a thrilling transformation as stakeholders agree to change the sprint weekend format, separating the Saturday race from the main event. In an effort to boost excitement and aggressive competition, F1 is increasing the number of sprint weekends to six in 2023, all while fine-tuning the qualifying sessions and awarding points in a completely new way.

All Formula 1 stakeholders have reached a consensus to alter the sprint weekend format, isolating the Saturday race from the remainder of the event.

During the initial two seasons of the trial sprint format, there were three events where a brief race on Saturday determined the starting grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

After receiving input from fans, broadcasters, and event promoters, F1 resolved to raise the number of sprint weekends to six in 2023.

Before the inaugural sprint event of the season in Azerbaijan, the F1 Commission conducted a last-minute vote on Tuesday, approving modifications designed to motivate drivers to compete more aggressively during the sprint race itself.

New sprint weekend format: Friday: FP1 and grand prix qualifying Saturday (‘Sprint day’): Sprint shootout and sprint race Sunday: Grand prix

FridayFP1 (Free Practice 1) single one-hour practice and Grand Prix Qualifying set the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
SaturdaySprint Day: Sprint Shootout and Sprint Race
SundayGrand Prix

As before, Friday will consist of a single one-hour practice session and a qualifying session.


However, this qualifying session will now determine the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

The Formula 1 has designated Saturday as ‘sprint day’, which will involve a condensed qualifying session known as the ‘sprint shootout’ that will follow the existing Q1-Q2-Q3 format.

The entire session will last approximately 45 minutes, with shorter segments than full qualifying and two distinct required tyre compounds throughout the three sessions.

Sprint Day EventsDescription
Sprint ShootoutA shorter qualifying session utilizing the existing Q1-Q2-Q3 format
Q112 minutes long, using Medium tyres
Q210 minutes long, using Medium tyres
Q38 minutes long, using Soft tyres
Sprint RaceA race based on the grid positions determined by the Sprint Shootout results

The sprint shootout format consists of three qualifying sessions: Q1, Q2, and Q3. Q1 lasts for 12 minutes and uses medium tires, while Q2 lasts for 10 minutes and also uses medium tires. Finally, Q3 lasts for 8 minutes and employs soft tires.

This structure will provide drivers with fewer laps, thereby heightening the risk, with Q3 likely having only a single run.

The sprint qualifying session establishes the starting grid for the sprint race, which now solely awards points – ranging from eight points for the winner to one point for eighth place – without affecting Sunday’s grid.

The grand prix will remain the sole race held on Sunday.


How the Newly-Confirmed Changes to F1’s Sprint Race Format Will Function

Will the new Formula 1 sprint format really succeed in motivating drivers to push themselves harder during Saturday’s race, which is one of the reasons for its implementation?

Although the sprint race no longer determines the grid for the grand prix, drivers might take more risks in the race as mishaps won’t impact their starting position for the main event. While this logic makes sense to a certain extent, it doesn’t consider the costs of potential damage, especially under the cost cap. Drivers must avoid recklessness as there are still consequences, such as limited spare parts.

The revised format also reduces the potential gains that can be made in the race. Gaining positions in the top eight only awards one point, which has value but no longer comes with the benefit of improved grid position for the next day. Under the previous rules, gaining a position in the top eight not only provided an additional point but also the possibility of earning more points the following day.

Furthermore, 12 out of 20 drivers won’t score any points on Saturday, and most of them won’t have a realistic chance of earning points unless there’s an unexpected event. If a driver is in 15th place, there’s no incentive to push for 14th, unlike the previous format where gaining a position would have improved their grid spot for Sunday’s race.

While it’s true that racing drivers are naturally competitive, this argument could also apply to the old sprint format, which was criticized for not having enough overtaking. For the new format to succeed, the risk-reward balance must be more favorable, but it’s unclear if the ‘Sprint Saturday’ format will significantly change that dynamic.

The limited action in sprint races is more likely tied to other issues, such as minimal strategic variation due to the majority of the field starting on the same tires and the absence of pitstops. The straightforward, flag-to-flag sprint race is determined solely by race pace and position, and since starting positions are based on qualifying pace, the cars will line up roughly according to their lap times. With everyone on a similar strategy, significant movement in positions is not expected, making it difficult to see how the new format will substantially increase on-track action.


Additionally, the unyielding laws of physics pose a challenge for F1’s administrators. While the current regulations have made it somewhat easier to follow other cars, completely eliminating turbulence is impossible. As a result, getting close enough to launch an attack remains difficult, leading to DRS overtakes being the most common way to advance positions.

In the six sprints held so far, most drivers have been motivated to gain positions but have been unable to do so due to the lack of means and opportunities. This issue will likely persist in the new sprints.

It remains uncertain whether the change will produce the desired effect in F1 or if its impact will be minimal. It will require several sprints to reach a definitive conclusion, as the Saturday race in Baku could be either dramatic or uneventful for reasons unrelated to the format change.

However, considering the stakes are lower in the new sprints due to their disconnection from the Sunday race, this change may be a step in the wrong direction.

F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023 F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023 F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023 F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023 F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023 F1 Sprint Weekend Format 2023

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