Over the last two years, F1 Sprint has brought a heavy dose of racing action to the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends, with the most memorable being the 2021 Sprint race in Brazil where Lewis Hamilton stormed the circuit with an impressive drive from dead last to P5. The incident-prone sprint races don’t just spice up the grid for Sunday but they also end up putting faster cars behind. Hence, for 2023 and beyond, Formula 1 has revised the Sprint race format that now includes two qualifying sessions over the weekend. It all starts with the Azerbaijan GP, which is due to be held this weekend.
Instead of the usual format where the sprint race sets the grid for the main race on Sunday, the 2023 F1 Sprint race results will no longer affect the grid lineup for Sunday. Drivers and teams will need to set up their cars for the main race with a conventional qualifying session, and then do the same for Saturday’s new qualifying session called the F1 Sprint Shootout. The results of the Sprint Shootout will then determine the grid for the F1 Sprint race.
F1 Sprint Race Shootout: How does it fit into the puzzle?
The F1 Sprint Shootout will debut at the 2023 Azerbaijan GP this weekend. Here is how things will unfold:
On Friday, there will be a usual Practice session spanning 60 minutes, where drivers will get to test their new setups and get familiar with the circuit.
After the Practice session, the Qualifying session for the main race on Sunday will be held on Friday. The usual Qualifying rules apply here. The results at the end of Q3 will determine the grid for the main race on Sunday.
On Saturday, the new F1 Sprint Shootout will hold a mini-qualifying session. The Sprint Qualifying 1, or SQ1, will run for 12 minutes, followed by the SQ2 session for 10 minutes, and the SQ3 session for 8 minutes. The results from the SQ3 session will determine the grid for the F1 Sprint race.
Just after the Sprint Shootout on Saturday, the F1 Sprint race will be held. The race distance is set at 100 kilometres, allowing drivers and teams to give it their all. Points will be awarded, as usual, to the top eight finishers in the race.
Finally, on Sunday we will get to see the main race, where the grid lineup will be determined by Friday’s Qualifying session.
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New rules for the F1 Sprint Shootout
For the F1 Sprint Shootout, drivers need to use the mandatory Medium compound (yellow marked) tyres in SQ1 and SQ2. Those who get into SQ3 need to use the Soft compound (red-marked) tyres.
As for the penalties, here’s a summary. Any grid penalties obtained in the first practice or qualifying session will apply to the main race on Sunday. Any grid penalties incurred during the Sprint Shootout will be applicable for the Sprint race. And, and grid penalty from the F1 Sprint race will be applicable to the main race.
Moreover, parc ferme breaches will result in pit lane starts for the F1 Sprint and Main races. Any power-unit-related penalties will only be applicable to the main race.
Points will be awarded to the drivers who finish in the top eight, with the winner earning eight championship points.
F1 Sprint Shootout will be held at six race weekends
As mentioned above, the F1 Sprint Race will debut at the Azerbaijan Baku circuit. However, F1 fans will also get to see it in Austria (Red Bull Racing), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Qatar (Losail Circuit), the US GP (Circuit of The Americas) and Sao Paulo (Interlagos).
(Hero and Featured Image Credit: Courtesy Formula 1.com)