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F1 confirms new standalone sprint race format including half-hour ‘Sprint Shootout’ · RaceFans

Formula 1 has changed its sprint race format just four days before it will be used for the first time this year.

The FIA has authorised the changes ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix following a vote held at an F1 Commission meeting earlier today.

The main change will see the weekend’s second practice session, which was scheduled for Saturday morning, replaced with a second qualifying session to decide the grid order for the sprint race which takes place later that day.

The extra qualifying session, to be called the ‘Sprint Shootout’, will run to the same three-part format seen at regular events, albeit shortened. Drivers will also be required to use specific tyre compounds in each phase of qualifying for the sprint race.

Q1 in the Sprint Shootout will last 12 minutes and drivers will have to use the medium tyre compound. The same compound will be mandatory in Q2, which lasts 10 minutes. Finally Q3 will last eight minutes and only the soft tyre compound may be used.

Friday’s qualifying session will now set the starting grid for the grand prix instead of the sprint race. The sprint race will award the same points as before (see below) but is now a standalone event which has no direct bearing on the starting order for the grand prix.

All other aspects of the sprint event timetable remain unchanged. Drivers will have an hour of practice on Friday morning followed by qualifying in the evening using the regular format.

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The condensed qualifying format for the sprint race is likely to put teams and drivers under increased pressure. In an ordinary qualifying session, Q3 lasts 12 minutes. Several drivers who reached the final 10 last year had enough time to set two flying laps.

However qualifying at the high-speed, barrier-lined street Baku City Circuit has often been disrupted by red flags due to crashes in recent years. The 2021 session was interrupted by a total of four red flags, including one in each phase of qualifying.

Prior to today’s F1 Commission meeting, Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said last week teams are aligned in support of the change as they believe it will make the weekend “more dynamic”.

This is due to be the first of six sprint events during 2023. The others will take place at the Austrian, Belgian, Qatar, United States and Brazilian grands prix.

Revised 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix schedule

Session timings and key rules differences between each:


First practice – 60 minutes

Grand prix qualifying – Q1: 18 minutes; Q2: 15 minutes, Q3: 12 minutes


Sprint race qualifying (‘Sprint shootout’) – Q1: 12 minutes; Q2: 10 minutes, Q3: 8 minutes

Sprint race, 17 laps – Pays 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points to the top eight finishers. Drivers may use DRS on lap after standing start or Safety Car start


Grand prix, 51 laps – Pays 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 points to the top 10 finishers, plus a bonus point for fastest lap if the driver who sets it finishes in the top 10. Drivers may use DRS on second lap after standing start or Safety Car start

This article will be updated.

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