Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022

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

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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

The FIA World Motor Sport Council 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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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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67 comments on “F1 confirms new standalone sprint race format including half-hour ‘Sprint Shootout’”

  1. Now that the sprint is essentially a standalone, shortened race, with less points on offer, what’s the incentive to compete if you have a problem in sprint qualifying and you have to start last or out of position?

    I rather keep the car in the garage instead of running for no reason and risking damage or unnecesary wear. Specially at a place like Baku. With budget caps and parts shortage in general, if they force the drivers to start, I think we’re going to see some of them just cruising around waiting for the checkered flag.

    1. I don’t really understand your question.
      Teams like RedBull or Mercedes fight for every point they can get. Teams like AlphaTauri or Williams fight for any point they can get. Why do the weaker teams race at all?

      1. Of course points are important.They race because they want to finish as high as possible in the WDC. In a race finishing 12 or 13th can still make the difference at the end. But I quess finishing a sprint race without points in 12th doesn’t help much. So why race on Saterday and risk damage and compromise Sunday race. Even the point difference between a win and third is not much so I agree we will see no real racing on Saterday just consolidation and managing the cars

    2. And a sprint win, 2nd or 3th is not that much different in points so will they risk anything for a sprint win?

  2. Half-hour + the usual twice 7 minutes between Q sessions? That’s 44 minutes rather than 30.

  3. I haven’t done the maths, but I guess it will be very tight to do two qualifying runs in an eight-minute Q3 session. So we’ll likely see cars just doing one run with quite a bit of sitting in the garage.

    1. @red-andy that was my thinking. Initially you’d think they’d be queuing at the pit exit. But I doubt it. Depending on tyre warmup it’ll either be two back to back flying laps, or more likely just one.

    2. Yeah, I would’ve preferred it if they’d tried some sort of Superpole as Q3 with everyone just doing one lap. As now everyone’s probably gonna do just the one lap anyway.

  4. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    25th April 2023, 17:20

    This is just getting more insane by the season and getting tiring as a fan. If they are going to have “sprint qualifying” sessions and a sprint race. Then why not get rid of the qualifying session all together on friday and make it P2? Just average everyone’s fastest practice laps in both practice sessions to set sprint qually order or just simply use the championship order. This is just unnecessarily more complicated. The rookie drivers need more than one practice and its not fair to their development! I get it, F1 is looking for more money on Friday but seriously. How friggin greedy are these people when they are already expanding the racing season to 23/24 races? Most serious fans that follow F1 are not bothered by the current format. These “new” fans are not going to last and will get bored with the sport eventually or the sport is going to become way to complicated to follow which will be a turn-off for them. Apparently its complicated enough already as no one seems knows what is the race track and isn’t (talking track limits). The F1 brain trust is starting to lose me here and I’ve been following F1 closely since 1994!

    If I was a team, I would be advocating for more power unit slots, etc., in a season for all this additional running and possible additional damage due to forcing drivers to race wheel to wheel more frequently (not to mention the expanded schedule).

    F1 also needs to set a formal format for ALL races. Having random races holding sprints needs to end. This trial period started three years ago, so why is this still going on? Just pick a format and stick with it. If the FIA/F1 is looking to make this more of a show, then why not just use the F2 weekend format and move on with it?

  5. If you are a F1 fan then this adds nothing.
    Indeed. At some point, I guarantee that this Sprint thing will mess up some drivers chance at a WDC.

    If you are a “Party Person” who just wants to have a massive party weekend regardless of what is going on, or what it costs, then this is aimed at you.

    Liberty do not care if you like F1.
    They care about you putting your money in their pockets.

    1. @nullapax I bet if someone is having a party they don’t care if there are mini coopers or F1 cars. Someone will care but for me at least if there is action on the track it is enough

      1. What a load of crap. More racing. Great stuff.

    2. What a load of crap. More racing. Great stuff.

    3. Gatekeeping at its best

  6. Sergey Martyn
    25th April 2023, 17:39

    Leave them alone… © Kimi

  7. Stop inventing (Cit)

  8. It’s getting really stupid

    1. Couldn’t have said it better.

    2. contrived for sure

  9. Why they change? Sprint Qualifying is a success, isn’t it Liberty?

  10. So the sprint race is really barely interesting for the teams in place 10-20. Just drive into the pit?

    1. Haha, it could be just like the 2005 US GP!

  11. Me:
    So there’s no standard race weekend now? Different events have differing numbers of points and format, and further changes can be made at any point prior to a race weekend? And if you’re nowhere near the top three in a sprint race (formerly known as “not a race”) there’s ore advantage to be gained from just retiring from the race to save Power Unit wear-and-tear?

    F1 Commission:

    Jacks are worth 10 Kings are worth 3 apart from one eyed Jacks which are Wild cards.
    Round one you get a hand of 9, round two you get a hand of 7.
    Two’s are wild cards, apart from diamonds, which retain their face value
    except for the king of diamonds, which is worth the same as all kings, 3.
    You play in sequence, unless you can match a card in an ascending or descending order.
    If you can then that’s a Go Johnny Go Go Go Go, then you stand up
    and shout Go Johnny Go Go Go Go and pick up all the cards on the table.

    The winner is the one with the most tricks after 15 hands.


    1. Nailed it!

      1. @geekzilla9000 hang on, can you repeat that? I need to grab a pen. This could take a while.

    2. COTD righ here!

    3. Perfect

    4. Thank goodness Johnny Be Good is still ok.
      Seems the Ford vs Cadillac Maybelline battle won’t happen.

    5. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a comment as much as this one for a long time. Go Johnny Go Go Go Go

  12. The teams must be compensated for any damage they incur this weekend (while racing in a high speed street circuit) over and above the cost cap to accommodate for such experimentation in the name of entertainment.

    1. Don’t think compensation is a big issue for anyone but the poorest teams, where a big crash, a couple millions, could make a difference, however it’s more that if they exceed the cap at the end of the season by a margin small enough it could be attributed to a crash here, no penalty.

  13. At least this makes quali on a Friday more meaningful. And the sprint race is too short to be of much interest as it’s over too quickly. So that frees up Saturday to do something else. So I think it’s a positive change.

    1. +1

      I see a lot of negative comments and while I haven’t been blown away with sprints so far, I do think it’s time to change the F1 weekend as a whole. 3 practice sessions are too much and the importance of qualifying has gone as race pace becomes the key focus for teams. Look at RedBull, they could start anywhere in the top 5 and still get an easy win with their straight line speed.

      This massively improves the sprint prospect as drivers will likely go for moves knowing it won’t impact their Sunday race.

      It also removes the pointless Saturday morning practice. Overall a positive change if we’re keeping sprint weekends.

  14. I can see a lot of car damage been caused this weekend as practice in Baku often features a lot of cars going off anyway & a fair few red flags over the 3 hours. Condensing that down to a single 60 minute session is going to be very manic and if there’s a red flag or 2 the lost track time isn’t going to give much time to figure out one of the trickier tracks.

    And going into qualifying with so little time may just make qualifying more chaotic than usual and the 2nd qualifying session again with not much time may end up seeing twice the chaos, Especially with all cars on track at the start with not much time to get laps in.

    Then you have the gimmick race with not much race data on tyres for Pirelli to set minimum pressures, camber levels etc… which may also cause an issue.

    I just honestly worry that were going to see a lot of accidents this weekend and while i’m sure the casual american netflix, nascar fans who love watching ‘the big one’ will be thrilled….. I don’t see that prospect as been good for the sport at all. Especially since we have seen now that there just going to throw red flags to force restarts that increase the chances for further accidents.

    The show has won. F1 is a sport no more!

  15. That’s all nice (I’m saying it sarcastically), but I don’t have and/or want to spend that much of my valuable time watching F1 events. 2x qualy, 2x race, my weekend is gone. No, thanks. I won’t sacrifice my life so you earn a few extra bucks. I won’t go into endless repeating of other reasons why I dislike “sprints” and quantity way over quality mentality, we’ve all said enough by now (and nobody cared anyway).

    1. I think with a crazy track like Baku, the “danger” might be that the Saturday is so crazy that more people might want to watch that instead of Max cruising to victory on Sunday. And then with a busy weekend and people having real lives as well, maybe the actual race (or races – other Sundays this year) will lose out.

    2. Then don’t… Most people I know who watch F1 only watch the race, with the occasional qually, and are happy with that.

      I used to watch every session religiously, with only practice being time shifted. It does take up massive amounts of time and is really hard work, you have to be very dedicated to commit that much time to it. Most people won’t.

  16. When will the NRA be announced as the global partner of the Shootout?

    1. LOL – COTD for me

      1. @dbradock COTA for me

    2. When F1/Liberty determine their target audience.

      1. @davedai you hit the target :D

  17. …. and teams will be able to play a joker to get double points,…. no, wait a minute, that’s It’s A Knockout. It must be my age, confusing F1 with a comedy format.

    1. It must be my age, confusing F1 with a comedy format.

      There are times, far too frequent times, when I start thinking Ferrari are way ahead of you on that, have requested a multi-race joker and are playing the whole thing for laughs.
      Whatever happened to that Ferrari style of yesteryear? Or am I too, aged and confused?

  18. They keep trying and keep failing to get this right.

    The small changes they need are:
    1. Move both listed Friday items to Saturday
    2. Move both listed Saturday items to Friday
    3. Renaming —
    “Sprint race qualifying” as “F1-lite qualifying” featuring future drivers in last years car
    “Sprint race” as F1-lite race” featuring future drivers in last years car

  19. If the driver would need to start Sprint with the tyre used at qualy it would be way more interesting. Weaker teams would put softer tyres to start ahead, it would field many strategies.

  20. If you want two race formats, why not start a separate series?

    1. Exactly right! (But that apparently risks the investor money in a “bad” way.)

  21. Another attempt to fix what isn’t broken, in the name of Novelty. Maybe Liberty should just let the drivers decide the order of the sprint race with a good old fashioned kart race? I have never seen that before, so I that’s good, I guess.
    How about a contest for the fastest four wheel and front wing pitstop to decide the grid? How about decide the race order according to which teams roadies arrive at the venue first? Good grief!

  22. If this is successful will WEC have a 24 minute race the Friday before LeMans?

  23. Saturday: Sprint race, starts in reverse championship order, points count only for “sprint championship”, everyone gets to have fun and crash into things.

    Sunday: Standard GP, starts in championship order.

    They can have as few or many practices as they want, no idea why anyone would watch these unless they’ve taken time off work to travel to a race and want something to do on Friday.

  24. This makes no sense, as if not do the sprint race qualifying on the Friday, then the grand prix qualifying on the Saturday after the sprint…

    Then use the finishing result of the sprint to determine the runners for Q3, Q2 and Q1 to give the drivers more space on the track in Q3 and Q2 and to give all the competitors a reason to care about the sprint, not just the top 8.

  25. This is great news, I can now watch Qualifying on Friday and the race on Sunday, and spend my Saturdays doing something else in full knowledge that I won’t have missed anything.

  26. I can see the sprint qualy being red flagged and there being problems with drivers not setting times throwing the whole thing into confusion. Especially around Baku.

    1. Probably what they want, mixed up orders make great races.

  27. The slow creep towards double-race weekends.

  28. I’m wondering if there is any reason the existing sprint format couldn’t have been retained, however implement Parc Ferme after FP2 on Saturday morning to make that session more meaningful? Assuming there must be time constraints with that…

    With the new format, the weekend will feel disjointed with the the Grand Prix ‘proper’ being split between Friday and Sunday with the sprint day in between. Also, with no grid positions to fight for and a small gap between points places for the front runners, are we really going to see better racing in the sprint?

  29. Reading James Joyce is a most phenomenal logical stream of consciousness,
    more than this subterranean conduit to carry off waste matter of illogical lack of common sense.

    So called sporting?

  30. A sprintrace is just another race start. In Melbourne the standing restarts were considered a problem.
    For sprintraces its something to thrive for..

    Its all about mindless spectacle. Yet karting has proven time and time again, that racing will never be mindless spectacle, unless you make it a destruction derby.

  31. Not bad even if I expected a single-lap format & the tyre compound experiment similar to what’s planned for Imola & another event, I don’t mind.
    DRS references are misleading, though, as they’re as follows to be precise:
    Sprint: after one full lap
    Race: after two full laps

  32. Interesting that it’s taken till now to come up with this. Those of us that said the whole sprint abomination fiasco was way too rushed seem to have been vindicated not that they’ve finally come up with something that makes sense compared to the previous train wrecks.

    However it turns out Liberty will say it’s an absolutely unqualified success and will start planning for some (probably about 50%) of events from next season to be changed to two sprint days and remove Friday action completely.

    I’ve said all along that the aim will be to have multiple short races and get rid of the long feature race. This is just yet another step in that direction. I’m beginning to think that the plan was actually to make the first iterations really bad so that they can get people to love this new format to further that agenda.

  33. So fans who bought a Saturday ticket now see even less of F1 cars on the track! I wonder if they’ll get a pro-rata refund… not that there’s much space for fans in Baku! At least the sprint qualifying will be a kinda convenient time for Australians. I fear the limited time will lead to a repeat of 2016’s elimination qualifying as drivers won’t bother trying for an extra run. Time will tell!

  34. That’s grand. So I don’t have to watch Saturday at all now.

  35. Its ok for me. A mini race with a mini qualifying for mini points. Ill watch it and probably enjoy it but isn’t all this to make Friday’s more meaningful for TV and in person attendees? So why not do all this on a Friday then? Have P1 then shootout then sprint. Then Saturday do P2 and qualifying (Parc Ferme should be lifted for P2) and race on Sunday. Fun Friday, Serious Saturday and Sunday. Even better make it a sprint championship with separate points on Fridays and get all the stupid ideas out of their system. Reverse grid it, sprinklers, shells from Mario Kart. Go nuts! Ill just tune in on Saturday for the real championship :-)

    It could have been worse though if they had done something stupid like single lap qualifying with driver leading championship going first, or some other kind of success penalty idea.

  36. I have a crazy idea :)
    Sprint Friday – without practice, with or without parcferme
    – sprint quali
    – sprint race

    – Practice 1 (without parcferme)
    – quali for GP

    – GP

  37. I’m cool with the new format, at least I want to see it in action before judging. My remark is on the weekend “rhythm”. I would have preferred sprint quali/quali/sprint race/race to keep Friday low-key and ramp up on Saturday. Alternatively, the shootout quali very close to the sprint in terms of timing, as the two were a single event. But anyway, let’s see how it goes.

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