Monday, June 24, 2024

Formula 1’s Sprint format receives update ahead of Baku

Significant changes to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship Sprint format have landed in time for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with adjustments made to the session schedule and sprints now defined as an independent aspect of the Grand Prix weekend. 

The previous format for F1 sprint consisted of free practice one and a traditional qualifying session on Friday, which set the grid for the Sprint event held on Saturday after a second practice session. The results of the sprint set the starting order for Sunday’s Grand Prix. 

This year, teams are restricted to just one practice session before going straight into qualifying on Friday. This qualifying session will define the starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday. Saturday is now dedicated entirely to the F1 Sprint, with a “Sprint Shootout” session setting the order for the Sprint race later that day. 

The Sprint Shootout functions similarly to a typical qualifying session, with three stages, the elimination of five drivers in each of the first two rounds, and a final scramble for pole position amongst the remaining ten. 

However, each stage of the Sprint Shootout is shorter than during traditional qualifying, with SQ1 being only twelve minutes, followed by ten minutes for SQ2 and eight minutes for SQ3, which puts pressure on teams and drivers to get their laps in as quickly as possible.

The final caveat for the new Sprint Shootout is mandatory tyre compounds–  medium tyres must be used in SQ1 and SQ2, and soft tyres are required for SQ3. 

The F1 Sprint is largely unchanged, with eight points up for grabs for the winning driver of the 100km race, scaling down to one point for the eighth-place finisher. 

The key takeaway from this rearrangement is that the F1 Sprint bears no impact on a driver’s starting position for the Grand Prix like it has done from 2021 on– rather, it is its own event altogether. The goal with this change is to give drivers the ability to race full-out during the sprint without worrying about compromising their chances on Sunday.

The FIA has outlined how penalties will be served through the course of the weekend– Grid Penalties handed out during Friday’s practice and qualifying will be applied to the Grand Prix and those given during the Sprint Shootout will apply to the Sprint. Grid Penalties incurred during the Sprint will be served during the Grand Prix. The consequence for breaching Parc Fermé is a pit lane start for the Sprint and the Race. 

The updated Sprint format will take place at the six Sprint weekends scheduled for this season, starting with the seventeen-lap dash at the high-speed Baku City Circuit