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today is May 31, 2023

Changes to Formula 1’s sprint race format are likely to go ahead for the next round of the championship in Azerbaijan as all teams are behind the plan, according to Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur.

Six of this year’s F1 rounds will feature the additional sprint races, which were introduced three years ago. The Baku City Circuit is due to hold this year’s first sprint event at the end of this month, but plans are afoot to alter the format again.

Sprint race events already feature two practice sessions instead of the usual three, as the extra race takes up one of the practice slots. F1 intends to reduce that to a single hour for the first sprint event in Azerbaijan, turning second practice into a dedicated qualifying session for the sprint race later that afternoon. This would mean Friday’s qualifying session sets the starting order for Sunday’s grand prix.

The exact details of the plan are yet to be announced, including the format of the extra qualifying session. However Vasseur says the scheme enjoys the support of F1’s teams.

Race start, Baku Street Circuit, 2022 Baku will hold a sprint race for the first time “For once I think all the teams were aligned,” he told media including RaceFans. “It’s not very often that it’s the case, [so] we have to jump on it.”

Replacing another practice session with qualifying makes the format “more dynamic”, said Vasseur. “You can discuss about why you had to do it so late, but at the end of the day, I think that we are all aligned that we have to push for it.”

One criticism of the sprint format following its introduction in 2021 was the lack of interest in Saturday’s practice session, due to qualifying having already taken place by that stage in the weekend and the teams having finalised their car set-ups. Vasseur said he likes the proposed new format.

“I’m not a big fan of the of the usual FP2. Sometimes it’s a bit boring, not for us because we have a lot of data, but I can imagine for the spectators, even for you if you don’t know about the level of fuel, the engine mode and so that you have, it is a bit boring.

“To try to have something more dynamic during the weekends is a good decision. And then, on the other hand, I think it’s also it’s true that if you watch football, you are not watching the session on Wednesday when they are training in the stadium. We are probably the only sport where we are putting on TV the training session.”

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