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F1 Sprint: How new 2023 format will work after Sprint Shootout added to schedule

F1 Sprint weekends have a different format for 2023; Friday qualifying now sets grid for Sunday's Grand Prix; new, shorter Sprint Shootout qualifying takes place ahead of Sprint on Saturday; watch the United States GP on Sky Sports F1 as the Sprint returns this weekend

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Sky F1's Rachel Brookes explains how this season's new Sprint format will work and what fans can expect.

Formula 1's Sprint weekend format for 2023 explained ahead of it returning at the United States GP

What's changed for 2023

The key change is that the result of Saturday's shorter race will no longer set the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix (as was the case in 2021-2022), with that now being decided by Friday's qualifying session.

Whoever is fastest on Friday evening will now start from pole on Sunday.

A new, separate shorter qualifying session - the Sprint Shootout - will now take place on Saturday morning, with Practice Two removed from the weekend schedule.

The Sprint, along with its own qualifying Shootout, is now essentially a separate entity from the main Grand Prix.

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With the new changes to the F1 Sprint weekends, Craig Slater explains why Sprint Races could be crucial in deciding positions in the Drivers' Championship.

Why has there been a change?

In essence, to try and improve the entertainment and spectacle of the Sprint weekend.

With the Sprint no longer setting the Grand Prix grid, the hope is that it will encourage the drivers to be more attacking and take more risks during the 100km event given an incident would not compromise them on Sunday.

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It also brings more meaning to Saturday morning. Under the old format, Saturday's Practice Two session had essentially become redundant due to F1's parc ferme rules - once cars leave the garage in qualifying on Friday, teams are unable to make any changes to their set-ups.

"The Saturday morning session was boring as hell," Haas boss Guenther Steiner told the Sky Sports F1 Podcast earlier this year. "It was boring for me, for the fans it was even more boring, so doing a qualifying session instead is good."

The reduction to just one 60-minute practice session ahead of qualifying on Friday could also bring more jeopardy to the weekend, with teams having less time to understand tyre behaviour and set-up.

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The best of the action from a dramatic Sprint at the Qatar Grand Prix.

How does the Sprint Shootout work?

The Sprint Shootout follows the same three-session knockout format as usual qualifying, but each Q1, Q2 and Q3 segment has been shortened to address engine and tyre concerns the teams had.

SQ1 has been shortened from 18 minutes to 12 minutes.

SQ2 has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.

SQ3 has been shortened from 12 minutes to eight minutes.

The aim is that each car would only have one flying lap in each session, although two runs could be done in SQ1 while SQ2 and SQ3 would allow time for two timed laps without a pitstop in between attempts.

The other significant difference between the Sprint Shootout and regular qualifying will be restrictions on tyre usage.

While teams are free to use any of their available tyres in regular qualifying, in the Sprint Shootout new sets of medium tyres will be mandatory in SQ1 and SQ2. In SQ3, drivers must run soft tyres but they do not have to be a new set.

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Lewis Hamilton was knocked out in the first part of the Sprint Shootout earlier this year in Austria

What is the points system for the Sprint?

Points for the Sprint in 2023 remain unchanged from 2022.

A total of 36 points are on offer for the top eight finishers in Saturday's race. This is allocated as follows:

  • 1st place - 8 points
  • 2nd place - 7 points
  • 3rd place - 6 points
  • 4th place - 5 points
  • 5th place - 4 points
  • 6th place - 3 points
  • 7th place - 2 points
  • 8th place - 1 point

Unlike in the Sunday Grand Prix, there is no point for fastest lap in the Sprint.

And the points certainly can be crucial: Max Verstappen this season became the first driver to clinch a world title in a Sprint on the Saturday in Qatar.

Are there pit stops in the Sprint?

Pit stops are few and far between given how short a Sprint is.

Unlike the Grand Prix, there is no mandatory change of tyres required and, unless cars hit damage or puncture or it rains, don't expect them to leave the action on track for the pit lane between lights out and the chequered flag.

Drivers are free to run on whatever tyre compound - hard, medium or soft - that they wish.

How will grid penalties be applied?

Along with the announcement of the new format, clarification was also provided on how grid penalties will be applied during Sprint weekends.

Offences in Friday's practice session or qualifying to be applied to the race, while penalties incurred in the Sprint Shootout will be applied to the Sprint.

A grid penalty resulting from an incident during the Sprint will be applied to Sunday's race, while any breach of parc ferme will result in pit lane starts for both the Sprint and the Race.

Any grid penalties caused by breaching power unit limits will only apply to the race, unless their installation also represents a parc ferme breach.

Where will Sprint weekends take place in 2023?

For 2023, F1 doubled the number of Sprints from three - as held in 2021 and 2022 - to six.

The Azerbaijan GP hosted the first Sprint weekend on April 29, which was also the first time the shorter race had been held on a street circuit.

F1 Sprint dates in 2023

April 29 Azerbaijan GP
July 1 Austrian GP
July 29 Belgian GP
October 7 Qatar GP
October 21 US GP
November 4 Sao Paulo GP

Austria's Red Bull Ring hosted the format for a second year on July 1 and it it featured at the Belgian GP on July 29 in the final round before F1's summer break.

Qatar staged the fourth Sprint of the year on October 7 before the United States GP's Circuit of the Americas hosts its first Sprint weekend on October 21.

And Brazil's Interlagos will continue its record of being the only circuit to host the format since its inception on November 4.

Who's won the previous Sprints?

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Highlights of the Sprint from the Austrian GP.

The 10 previous Sprints held across 2021, 2022 and 2023 have seen five different drivers take victory.

Max Verstappen has five wins in the format, including the inaugural event at Silverstone in 2021 and two from four this season.

His Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was victorious at the Azerbaijan GP Sprint in April, while McLaren's Oscar Piastri impressively triumphed for the first time in F1 last time out in Qatar.

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Highlights of the Sprint from the Azerbaijan GP.

Valtteri Bottas is currently the only other multiple Sprint victor; he won on the Saturday at Monza and Interlagos in 2021 while at Mercedes.

And George Russell claimed his first F1 win in the Sprint at Interlagos last year before going on to also claim the Grand Prix win on the Sunday.

Watch Formula 1 return to Texas for the United States Grand Prix and another Sprint weekend live on Sky Sports F1 from October 20-22. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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