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Formula One Introduces Convoluted New Sprint Race Rules


Formula One has introduced a new set of convoluted sprint race rules – even more convoluted than the previous sprint race rules – due to go into effect at this weekend’s 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The shorter ‘sprint’ race – typically held on Saturday prior to the main grand prix – has now been separated from the grand prix and will have its own qualifying session, known as the ‘sprint shootout’, which will still be held on Saturday – but after the qualifying session to set the grid for the main grand prix – which will be held on Friday.

The sprint race will also have its own shorter qualifying session on Saturday to set the sprint race grid and will follow the typical qualifying format with three sessions, with the slowest five cars eliminated at the end of the first two, but with the exception that the sprint race sessions will be cut to just 12, 10 and eight minutes each [as opposed to 18, 15 and 12 minutes for a standard qualifying session].

Additionally, tire usage for the sprint race qualifying session will be as follows: teams will have to use new tires in each session – the ‘medium’ compound in the first two and ‘soft’ in the final top-10 session.

The sprint race format for Formula 1 was introduced in 2021 and employed a Friday qualifying session to set the grid for the sprint and the result of the sprint establishing the grid for the main grand prix – a format that resulted in drivers being reluctant to take chances in the sprint race because any errors or accidents inevitably affect their chances of success in the main grand prix.

The new sprint race format carries the same scoring layout for the top eight finishers – eight points for first place down to one for eighth – and will be used going forward at all six of the sprint weekends for the 2023 F1 season.

As a result, the third free practice session [FP3] at any circuit conducting a sprint race in the 2023 season has been eliminated and replaced by the new qualifying session for the sprint event.

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