F1 chiefs ‘green light’ sprint race changes: Will we see reverse grids?

The F1 Sprint race format is set for a revamp in 2024

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Formula 1 chiefs are ready to make further changes to the current format of the F1 Sprint to ensure the divisive race format is accepted on a wider scale by fans, drivers and teams.

Sprint races have changed the face of F1 to bring in more racing action for the new influx of fans, but not everyone is satisfied with the way the format has altered the fabric of motorsport’s most esteemed racing series.

Since being introduced in 2021, the format has been changed multiple times to suit drivers and teams. First, it was used to decide the grid, then it was changed to give out points and now, there are ideas for the sprint race to be separated from the FIA world championship entirely.

Although the arrival of a second qualifying session, now called the Sprint Shootout, allows drivers to risk more without compromising Sunday, the Sprint is seen as a preview of the race and lessens the importance of raceday. Because of this, Formula 1 wants to make changes again with the hope that teams, drivers and supporters will be satisfied.

According to German magazine Motorsport Aktuell, the idea of ​​swapping the F1 Sprint to Saturday morning and scheduling Qualifying for Sunday’s race on Saturday afternoon has received the green light.

Under this proposal, teams would be allowed to break parc ferme rules without receiving a sanction and offering spectators some variety in the main event.

Max Verstappen gets his way

This will please Max Verstappen, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the format, despite amassing the most points from the sprint since its inception in 2021. The Dutchman believes that practice is more important for teams to set up their cars and thinks sprint races should be abolished completely.

“We should just get rid of the sprint weekend and then everyone can just set up their cars normally,” Verstappen told reporters in October.

The main problem for the new format is the way in which the grid for the sprint race will be decided. One of the most obvious options on the table is replicating the 2023 format with a slight change, bringing the Sprint Shootout forward to Friday – allowing the drivers to compete in the shortened 100km race in their qualifying order the following morning.

But this could all change if plans for inverted grids are approved. In this case, there would be an option for a Sprint Shootout on Friday to decide the Sprint grid, which would involve flipping part of the grid or even the entirety of it for the race on Sunday.

However, it does not appear to be particularly popular with drivers and F1 team bosses as it may dilute the importance of qualifying higher up the grid.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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