Lewis Hamilton was gushing about the revised sprint race format that will debut at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and said he expects the weekend to be the best of the 2023 Formula 1 season so far.
The new format sees the sprint race uncoupled from the grand prix and acting as a standalone event, featuring sprint qualifying on Saturday morning before the race comes in the afternoon.
“It’s an amazing event particularly with the shake-up of the whole format of the weekend,” Hamilton told the press ahead of the 2023 Azerbaijan GP. “It’s probably the most exciting weekend so far this year, it’s going to be tough for everybody but we’re all in the same boat.
“And what a track to be able to do it at, where overtaking is possible, great racing here, it’s always the best races here and it’s definitely difficult to just have one session, like 20 laps and then straight away you’re qualifying.”
Mercedes arrive in Azerbaijan after a mixed opening three races where they endured an enormously disappointing opening weekend where they abandoned their ‘no sidepods’ concept and were well off the pace of leaders Red Bull.
However, Hamilton finally picked up their first podium of the season at the Australian GP, while George Russell also briefly held the third-place trophy in Saudi Arabia.
Hamilton hoping for better sprint success
Hamilton‘s had a mixed record at sprint events since they were introduced in 2021.
He dropped points to title rival Max Verstappen in all three sprint qualifying sessions in 2021, while his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas emerged as sprint king taking victory in two out of three.
However, the Sao Paulo sprint was crucial in helping Hamilton recover from last to victory, and he took third at the same event in 2022, sandwiched across just one point scored in the other two 2022 sprints.