What is the new F1 Baku sprint race format?

The 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will see a new sprint format introduced

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Formula 1 have confirmed a new sprint format for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix following the four-week break since the last event in Melbourne.

F1 introduced sprint races for the 2021 season and this year will see six sprint events, with the first being held in Baku.

Just one practice session will take place with the new format and there will be two qualifying sessions, one for the race and another for the sprint race.

All 10 teams have unanimously approved the new changes, which were ratified by the F1 Commission and FIA World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday.

How does the F1 sprint format work?

FP1 will still happen on Friday morning for one hour, so the drivers and teams can get up to speed.

The first changes come with Friday qualifying, which will set the grid for the main Grand Prix, not the sprint. F1‘s traditional qualifying format will be used here.

Saturday is all about the sprint, but to set the grid for the 100km race, another qualifying session will take place in the morning.

It’s expected that each segment of qualifying will be shorter, so Q1 will be 12 minutes, Q2 will be 10 minutes and Q3 will be eight minutes. Medium tyres must be used in Q1 and Q2, with soft tyres mandatory for Q3.

This qualifying session will set the grid for the sprint, which will still be 100km, or 17 laps at the Baku City Circuit on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, the main race will happen, with the grid being set from the results of Friday’s qualifying session.

Azerbaijan GP Schedule 2023

DaySessionLocalUKUS ETUS PT
FriPractice 113:30-16:3010:30-11:305:30-6:3003:30-04:30
FriQualifying17:00-18:0014:00-15:009:00-10:0007:00-08:00
SatSprint qualifying12:30-13:1509:30-10:1504:30-05:1502:30-03:15
SatSprint race17:30 (17 laps)14:30 (17 laps)09:30 (17 laps)07:30 (17 laps)
SunRace15:00 (51 laps)12:00 (51 laps)07:00 (51 laps)05:00 (51 laps)
George Russell ahead of Lewis Hamilton during qualifying at the 2022 Azerbaijan GP | REUTERS/Murad Sezer

F1 sprint race points system

The sprint points system is unchanged from 2022, so eight points will be handed out to the sprint race winner, seven to second, six to third and so on all the way down to one point for eighth place. No bonus point is given for the fastest lap of the sprint.

On Sunday, the normal 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 system remains, with one point for the fastest lap if you finish inside the top 10.

Pos1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10thFL
Sprint87654321000
Grand Prix2518151210864211

Where are F1 sprint races in 2023?

Six events will host a sprint in 2023 – the Azerbaijan, Austrian, Belgian, Qatar, United States and Sao Paulo GP. This is double the amount from 2022 and 2021.

The Qatar and United States GP will be the first time sprint events have been held in consecutive race weekends.

EventDate
Azerbaijan GPApril 28-30
Austrian GPJune 30-July 2
Belgian GPJuly 28-30
Qatar GPOctober 6-8
United States GPOctober 20-22
Sao Paulo GPNovember 3-5
Max Verstappen looks on at the Australian GP | Dan Istitene/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen hits out at F1 sprint

Championship leader Max Verstappen has made it clear he will quit F1, should the sport add more sprint events.

“I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long,” said Verstappen at the Australian GP. “I am not a fan of it at all.

“When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races.

“I understand they want to make every day exciting but they should reduce the weekend, and only qualify and race on Saturday and Sunday and make those two days exciting.

“We are heading into seasons where we could have 24 or 25 races and if you then start adding more it is not worth it for me. I will not enjoy that.”

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
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