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F1 approves Sprint format changes, Sprint Shootout introduction

Changes to Formula 1’s Sprint weekend format have been approved by the F1 Commission ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend.

With Formula 1 aiming to improve the intensity of racing in the Sprint races – which have been a part of the sport since 2021 – the FIA, F1 and the ten teams agreed that the Sprint should be a ‘standalone’ event.

Previously, drivers took part in qualifying on the Friday, which determined the grid for the Saturday Sprint. The result of the Sprint then determined the grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Now a separate, shorter qualifying session, called the Sprint Shootout, will take place on Saturday mornings and replace FP2. This means that the independent Sprint qualifying and race will all take place on Saturday.

Friday’s running will still include a practice session, which is now the only one of the weekend, and the traditional qualifying hour, which determines the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, as per conventional F1 weekends.

The Sprint Shootout will be a shorter version of traditional qualifying, with the new Q1, Q2 and Q3 sessions running for 12, 10 and 8 minutes respectively.

The new qualifying format will also trial dedicated tyre compounds for each segment of qualifying, and teams will have a slightly reduced tyre allocation for a Sprint weekend.

It’s hoped that the change will remove an element of caution to the Sprint races, with drivers electing to take fewer chances and risk dropping to the back of the field for the main Grand Prix.

Teams were understood to have agreed to the alterations at the Australian Grand Prix, but the approval by the F1 Commission was required. The changes will now need to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council, who will be voting on the proposal.

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