Changes to sprint race format and DRS rules plus more power units agreed

Formula 1

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The FIA’s Formula 1 Commission have agreed on proposed alterations to the schedule of sprint race rounds, among other changes.

The group, made up of the FIA, Formula One Management and representatives of the ten F1 teams, discussed and agreed various changes to the rules of the sport in a meeting held today in London.

In the latest change to the sport’s sprint race format, it has been agreed that sprint round Fridays will see a single practice session, followed by the sprint qualifying session. The Saturday sprint race will now be the first session on the second day, followed by grand prix qualifying and the grand prix itself in their traditional positions on Saturdays and Sunday.

Formula 1’s DRS rules have also been modified ahead of the new season. After the regulations around the use of DRS in sprint races were changed to allow for the overtaking aid to be activated from the end of the first lap or after one green flag lap after a restart, that will now also apply for all grands prix throughout the 2024 season.

In other announced changes, the allocation of power units each driver will be allowed to have over the course of the 24 round season has increased from three to four for the upcoming two seasons in 2024 and 2025.

The commission also discussed various minor amendments to the regulations for this year’s championship and issues around the incoming new power units for 2026.

All agreed changes must now be formally approved by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. This will next meet in a virtual session on February 28th, the day before first practice for the opening grand prix of the year at Bahrain International Circuit.

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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...

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33 comments on “Changes to sprint race format and DRS rules plus more power units agreed”

  1. Nice to see a pretty obvious change made to the sprint weekend. Would love to see Parc Ferme apply after main qualifying rather than the Sprint shootout, although it doesn’t seem clear from this announcement as to when the PF rules will apply.

    The DRS change is unnecessary in my opinion, and will likely lead to even more DRS trains if it is activated while the field are still especially close together…

    1. Totally agree with the PF comment, it would give the teams the opportunity to learn from the sprint race and make setup changes for the main event – making it at least a bit more interesting and give the sprint races more value.

      1. give the sprint races more value

        Even 1 x 10^-99 is more than zero.

  2. Reasonable change, the qualifying should be the main event of Saturday. Now the last thing to change is the format of the sprint shootout. There’s no point in having two identical sessions, only one a bit shorter. One lap qualifying could be brought back for the shootout.

    1. Let’s be honest. One lap qualifying is ridiculous. It’s cool as an idea though. Small changes in track conditions can make a huge difference and make it unfair. If you make that suggestion then you’re probably all aboard my sprint format change suggestion. Reverse grid.

      Also I’d add F1 probably wants eyeballs in screen for as long as possible, I find it hard to see how a single lap qualifying wouldn’t see less eyeballs spread over the duration of the session. If it were somehow possible to ensure equal track conditions I’d be all for single lap quali!!

      1. That’s one of the advantages of hot-lap style qualifying, though – that it isn’t guaranteed to be the same for everyone.
        All the more reason to watch all of the session (especially if weather change is imminent) rather than just the final minute of each of the three segments.
        Bonus, of course, is that you then get to see all of it rather than only 5% of what’s actually happening – and the increased level of jeopardy from having only one attempt certainly raises the stakes.

        There’s nothing unfair about nature and circumstance – both factors nobody has any control over. It’s objectively more ‘fair’ than the current style of qualifying with all cars on the track being managed in regard to who of their competitors they can block, impede or otherwise affect negatively in any way possible.

      2. Yeah, despite a mix of nostalgia (and fans who only like the idea because they did not live through it) it was dreary. If one of the favourites was forced to start early, you knew they had no chance. Changing conditions made a joke of qualifying and normally it will only be watched for the last 15-20 minutes, or even better just on replay so you can skip the out lap, inlaps and the time in between runners.

        1. The out laps and in laps were never shown (in full) as, when driver A was on the push lap, driver B was on in lap and driver C was on out lap. There was a 30 seconds or so buffer either side of the hot lap though.

  3. No mention of separating the sprints into their own championship, which was a change I was hoping to see. But the revised weekend format makes sense.

  4. Great, even more DRS trains as the field can’t spread out before its activation…

    1. I was foolish to hope that the change to DRS would somehow be to limit its use to encourage drivers to get better at overtaking.

    2. So the field being spread out not racing each other is more interesting to you than one with at least a strategic element?

  5. I’ll don’t think I’ll ever like sprints, but I dislike them a little bit less now qualifying is back where it should be.

    1. Which is why sprints should be reverse grid.
      Sprints, they’re kinda pointless. A half baked gp, or half raw, whichever way you want to look at it.

      If sprints must be, then may as well try something properly different with them. At least in theory a reverse grid would force the top guys to race one another more. Having said that don’t we need to fix the anti racing system first? Drs… 13 seasons and they didn’t try it out a single different way. Pinnacle of constipation.

      1. I agree the sprints might as well be reverse grid however I wouldn’t want points awarded in that case, would be nice to see teams put their young drivers & reserve drivers in the sprint events

        1. I’d never watch young drivers or reserve drivers, period. And even a point-less, no pun intended, Sprint would be not worth my time. I’m here for top level F1 racing with the top level F1 drivers, even if some of those drivers or teams could be questioned about ‘top level’.

          Sprints aren’t great but I’ve watched all of them. I even watch every single Sprint in MotoGP, which is every weekend. I just had to cut out watching the full buildup and buildout(after race stuff).

      2. I just can’t see why anyone would want to produce the fastest lap possible when the grid is going to be reversed. There has to be some incentive to accept being relegated to the back of the grid. No incentive to be last = no incentive to be fastest. When a grid is formed in the order of slowest to fastest, then every driver knows failure to try one’s best results in being promoted in one’s starting position.

  6. From the talk that went on something like: “We hope to get rid of DRS in the future” to: “Oh, fork it, let’s make every lap a DRS lap. Too unsafe for the rainy sessions? Then no more racing in the wet.” Of course, that goes so well with not allowing new teams, still insisting on the terrible and hated sprint format, insisting on street racing on generic improvised tracks, having 24 races in 12 months and other sweet things. When are we going to get an uplifting, positive surprise? Hamilton gave us some fun (although delayed for a year), and that actually was used to make us forget about the whole Andretti deal.

  7. Wasn’t the reasoning to bring the normal qualifying ahead of the sprints to make sure the sprint events don’t ruin a driver’s chances for the main race? Now if someone has a crash that cannot be fixed between the sprint race and normal qualifying, they are screwed for the main race.

    1. Welcome to the clown show, where the racing is in the bin.

    2. @hunocsi absolutely, had they kept the sprint on Friday night and made it such that the cars are not in parc ferme it would allow a team to rebuild overnight without penalty. Perhaps they’ll get it right by version 42 of the sprint

    3. Well, they could bring back spare cars……

  8. Argh – please turn on DRS later please not earlier. The only really interesting bits are when there isn’t DRS and drivers have to actually work for a pass.

    Commenters have already pointed out that the DRS trains will just start earlier instead of giving us just two laps of proper racing.

    I’d be in favour of extending the activation point for at least the whole race – lets allow DRS during the cool down lap :)

  9. So the main grand prix qualifying and main grand prix race will always be on same timings, no matter what weekend. That’s good

    1. Wrong & far from that, as the entire schedule has many unnecessary inconsistencies.

  10. Nothing new anymore & practice-shootout-sprint-qualifying is just as I expected as the specific session order.
    Four as the limit for ICE, TC, & MGUs, like last season from Azerbaijan GP onwards, is good with two more GPs.
    DRS from lap two & second lap following SC or suspension was already the case for three sprints last season for experimental purposes, so these reference laps becoming the standard for all races & sprints is also unsurprising.
    I’m still slightly skeptical, but this change will probably work out okay in the end.

    1. this change will probably work out okay in the end.

      How can more DRS ever work out in the end?

      1. It has to, until they make technical regs that don’t lead directly to cars that rely on DRS.

  11. I’m in favour of the sprint weekend schedule modification as it makes more sense (even if sprints are horrible but that’s another matter) but the DRS change is pointless… It’s a 50+ lap and the best bits of driving usually happen when DRS is off and the field is all bunched up together. Now we’ll just see DRS trains from lap 2 onwards or just easy meaningless DRS passes mid straight.

    1. Agree. That DRS one seems an attempt to keep the leader within range / prevent the leader from running away in the first two laps. Seemed they focused on that and completely ignored the effect it will have further down the field. Sounds consistent with previous not well thought trough decisions…

  12. Having the sprint before the GP qualifying devalues the sprint, not a good idea. Some more casual viewers might think that qualifying is more important or more interesting (imagine that!) than the sprint.

    Should have just copied the F2 weekend structure including the reversed top 10 for the sprint.

    1. someone or something
      6th February 2024, 13:29

      I honestly can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic.

  13. The DRS change is not needed. It solves one minor issue but then effects the rest of the race potentially. Why bother with this.

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