breaking news


today is May 31, 2023

Formula 1 plans to introduce a new version of its sprint race format for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend.

It follows F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s comments earlier this year about his desire to cut the amount of practice sessions to one per weekend, and ensure every other time the cars appear on track they have something to compete for. The revised sprint format moves closer towards that idea.

Instead of using a Friday qualifying session to set the grid for Saturday’s sprint race, Friday would decide the grand prix grid. A second round of qualifying on Saturday, replacing the second practice session, would set the sprint race grid.

Does the latest revision to the format look like an improvement to you? Would you rather stick with the original sprint schedule – or a return to the regular race weekend?

Join in this weekend’s debate below.

New sprint format

First practice, grand prix qualifying, sprint race qualifying, sprint race, grand prix

The current sprint format has been criticised for a number of reasons, two of which these changes would address.

The contradiction of using the Saturday sprint race to decide the grand prix grid, yet referring to the quickest driver in Friday qualifying as the pole-winner, would be resolved. The second practice session, which has always seemed a pointless affair under the original sprint format, would be replaced by a more competitive qualifying format giving drivers more to fight for.

Original sprint format

First practice, grand prix qualifying, second practice, sprint race, grand prix

This is the format which was planned before the season began. Changing it after the teams have already designed their cars and made their preparations may advantage some competitors over others.

As they have had so little pre-season testing, the extra practice time offered by the normal sprint weekend will be valuable.

Regular grand prix format

First practice, second practice, third practice, grand prix qualifying, grand prix

The sprint race format is an experiment F1 should drop instead of persisting with. It creates inconsistency by varying the format from weekend to weekend. It devalues the importance of the grand prix and will make it possible later in the year for the world championship to be decided outside of the main event. And the races tend to be processional as drivers know they have a longer race with far more points available still to come.

I say

My greatest objection to the sprint race format has always been the inconsistency of having a different format from one weekend to the next. It reflects poorly on the sport that those covering it constantly have to explain arbitrary rules changes.

The new proposal does look like an improvement over the current one, but as far as I’m concerned that’s the definition of damning with faint praise. Having an extra race on a Saturday diminishes what makes a grand prix special. Sprint races are little more than filler content.

Moreover, it looks unprofessional for F1 to start messing around with its sporting regulations for no good reasons only a month after the season has begun. Could it not have sorted this during its long winter break?

Still, if change there must be, I’d leap at the chance to chuck the sprint races for good. Then, perhaps once those running the show have given up on fiddling with the format they can get around to producing the closer competition and better racing which were promised for so long, and about which they have been curiously quiet of late.

You say

Would you introduce the new sprint format, stick with the current one or drop sprint races entirely? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which race format would you most like to see at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Another format (7%)
  • Standard grand prix format (69%)
  • Original sprint race format (0%)
  • New sprint race format (23%)

Total Voters: 110

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