Race start, Baku Street Circuit, 2022

FIA can bypass usual rules process to fix ‘unintended issues’ with new sprint format

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The FIA has added a dispensation in the regulations allowing the rules governing Formula 1’s new sprint race format to be temporarily changed without the usual process of approval being observed.

The FIA and F1 announced changes to the sprint format yesterday, just four days before the first sprint race of the season. The Saturday races will now be standalone sessions with their own seperate qualifying.

Ordinarily, changes to the sporting regulations must first receive the backing of the F1 Commission and then gain approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council. However the WMSC has approved a change to the Sporting Regulations allowing five specific sections of the rule book to be changed more quickly “in exceptional circumstances”.

The five clauses relate to the sprint race regulations. They may only be changed in order to “address unintended issues that have arisen as result of the changes to these Sporting Regulations approved by the WMSC in April 2023” and “must be solely intended to ensure sporting fairness or to avoid organisational issues”.

Any changes made to the rules in this way will be temporary. The rules state they will “only apply at the competition during which the matters in question arose”, meaning they will require the agreement of the WMSC in order to be permanently added to the rule book.

This dispensation is only available between now and August 1st this year. That period covers the first three sprint events: the first in Baku this weekend, then at the Red Bull Ring and Spa-Francorchamps in July.

The rules changes can only be made “with the agreement of the FIA, the Commercial Rights Holder [Liberty Media] and five competitors,” the revised rules state. The details of the changes will be issued in the race director’s competition notes which are circulated to all teams.

The rules that are able be changed in this way cover several pages of the regulations. They define the structure of the new ‘sprint shootout’ qualifying format for the sprint race, how the grid for the sprint race and grand prix are decided, the operation of ‘parc ferme’ restrictions on cars during the weekend, when penalties arising from sprint sessions are applied and which tyre sets teams must return at which times.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “FIA can bypass usual rules process to fix ‘unintended issues’ with new sprint format”

  1. Interesting

    1. I guess this means they intend to take feeback from this weekend @jerejj! That certainly is a good idea.

      1. @bascb I think that they know that something they didn’t forsee could make it look like a complete shambles, so they want to be able to fix whatever happened quickly before the Red Bull Ring race.

        Having a standalone race in the middle of the weekend, with the main event happening at either side (qualy on friday, race on sunday) makes little sense to me and has the potential to force people into weird compromises for saturday only.

        1. Yes, it makes a lot of sense to keep that option open when they throw this in suddenly in the middle of the season @fer-no65.

  2. Perpetual tinkering, because nothing has actually gone through a testing and trial phase.

    The wishful thinking format.

  3. Tinkering with the rules in the season is not a bad idea, major changes though should be kept to outside the racing season.

  4. Just highlights how badly thought out and ill conceived the gimmick race format is.

  5. Given all this talk about adding more absurdity on top of the already absurd concept of sprint races, I have a question about their future, if someone has any new info on this…

    When sprints were first anounced back in 2021, it was reported that F1 signed a multi-million 3-year deal with crypto.com for sponsorship reasons. That deal basically guaranteed that no matter how boring, stupid and flat out bad the sprint races would be, their place was secured until 2023 at least. And it was obvious that all that effort from F1 to spin sprint races as something positive, when the overwhelming majority thought otherwise, was just PR while they received their nice sponsorship money.

    My question is this, now that the 3-year original deal ends at the end of the year, has it been reported or rumored anywhere about F1 signing an extension or a new contract regarding the sprints? Because once you take the money out of the picture, it’s much easier for F1 to quietly drop them, if the majority of drivers and teams agree…

    1. RandomMallard
      26th April 2023, 17:25

      @black I don’t know how badly affected Crypto.com were by the crypto crash and scandal at the back end of last year, but I do wonder if they’ll even have the funding or resources to continue their sponsorship, or whether F1 would particularly want to be associated with them with potential investigations into large crypto companies seemingly on the horizon in many places. That said, I wouldn’t put anything past F1 at the moment…

  6. Complete joke of an organization. Sprints are awesome but we need to tweak them on a weekly basis to keep the awesomeness going.

  7. It just looks so amateurish, those people are way too much paid for the quality of service.
    I’d be fired should I behave like this at work, with last minutes changes, rules bending etc.

  8. LOL. Adding another list of grey areas easily susceptible to corruption and manipulation by anyone for any reason! Great job FIA!

  9. That certainly makes it look like a very well thought out concept in a professionally run and independently overseen sport.

    Good job!

  10. RandomMallard
    26th April 2023, 17:39

    I propose a grand idea!!! (Warning: severe sarcasm)

    There simply isn’t enough fan engagement at the moment! Why not have the sprint qualifying session solve this issue? We bring back elimination qualifying from early 2016, but instead of eliminating the driver in last automatically, all drivers in the bottom 5 get put into a live vote, where the driver with the most votes is eliminated!!! Then, repeat for all of Q1 and Q2, and then in Q3, it becomes one-shot qualifying, but during each driver’s run, the fans get to vote on different power-ups or penalties!!! For example, you could stop a driver using DRS on their lap, or add or remove 0.5 seconds onto their time! It would absolutely spice up the show 100000000% (and I know that must be good because it’s a big number, and big numbers are always better).

    However, a fan’s vote is only valid if they also tweet/post/comment “#SprintsAreAwesome”, because then everyone will be able to see how much people enjoy the format! I see absolutely no problems with this fantastic idea!

    /s :)

    (And for the record, being serious, I do think the new format is an improvement. It doesn’t make me like it any more, it just makes it less bad. And then allowing them to change the rules unilaterally mid-season doesn’t fill me with confidence either).

  11. The FIA has added a dispensation in the regulations allowing the rules governing Formula 1’s new sprint race format to be temporarily changed without the usual process of approval being observed.

    Would anyone here please notify me a call when they will decide the final Sprint format !

    1. Noted in my calendar, March 32nd 2024.

    2. It’s a non-binary regulation fluid thing.

  12. I do recall an item in the listing of Murphy’s Laws, that .. ” Actions to address unintended consequences from a process or design change, will invariably produce further, unexpected results. Additional revisions will be required.”

  13. FIA can bypass usual rules process to fix ‘unintended issues’ with new sprint format

    There’s only one real change they need to make, but they won’t.

  14. However the WMSC has approved a change to the Sporting Regulations allowing five specific sections of the rule book to be changed more quickly “in exceptional circumstances”.

    But what are the exceptional circumstances? As far as I can tell there aren’t any exceptional circumstances. There could well be dissatisfaction with how the Sprint Race is run or some consequence of the Sprint Race, but dissatisfaction doesn’t qualify as an exceptional circumstance. Or maybe the FIA wants to experiment with some new Sprint Race format, but again wanting to experiment doesn’t qualify as an exceptional circumstance. Presumably everyone agreed to what was intended to be the Sprint Race format before this season started. If the FIA wanted to have the option to change the rules regarding Sprint Races during the course of the season then they should have presented this plan to the Teams before the season started, but they didn’t. The Sprint Race should be run according to the existing rules, or, if the suggestion that the rules were changed earlier this month, then the Sprint Race should be run according to what the rules were at the start of the season.

  15. Is this the thin edge of the wedge?
    Of course, this is temporary (until its made permanent) and only applies to sprints (until it is extended to main races) and then it can be just all ‘show’ without pesky teams wanting this and that.
    Just shut up, do the races and take the lovely, lovely money.

  16. I hope they don’t change the system that allows the fastest qualifier and GP polesitter to start the GP potentially up to 8 points behind 8 other competitors even before the lights for the race go out!

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