FIA approves new Sprint Event format

Photo credits Red Bull Content Pool
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Ever since the introduction of the Sprint format, its technicalities and even more its schedule has consistently been improved.

In the early, test phases three seasons ago, the 100km long race had been used as a way to set the starting grid for the actual GP and points were only handed out to the top three finishers.

However, it was short lived as in 2022 already it was decided to turn the race into a completely independent event, featuring a qualifying of its own and even more points for the top eight.

A new format debuted in the past season, with drivers having to run selected tyre compounds during the qualifying for the event, called the Sprint Shootout. In particular, it was decided to have every car run hard tyres during Q1, mediums in Q2 and softs in Q3.

The number of Sprint events was also increased to six, including a return to Interlagos and the new addition of Baku.

During the first 2024 meeting of the Formula 1 commission, directed by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali alongside FIA Single Seater Director Nikolas Tombazis, new additions and improvements to the ever changing format were made. 

Technical regulations, as well as finance, sustainability, the layout of a racing weekend and sporting regulations were all covered during the meet-up.

In particular, a new schedule for the race weekends was presented and approved by the team representatives. On those such weekends, Friday will see cars on track for Free Practise followed by the Sprint Qualifying.

The Sprint Race itself has been moved up to Saturday morning, making room for the Grand Prix qualifying in the afternoon and the main event on Sunday, as it can be read in the statement issued by the FIA:

Following previous support by the F1 Commission for an update to the Sprint weekend there was agreement for a re-ordering of the sessions during the Sprint weekend with Free Practice 1 and Sprint Qualifying taking place on Friday, the Sprint and Grand Prix Qualifying on Saturday and the Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Max Verstappen during the Brazilian Sprint Race. Photo credits: Red Bull Content Pool

More details on eventual regulations changes following the new schedule will be released in a future meeting on the 28th of February.

Alongside this timetable change, other topics were approved, with the discussion of a new power unit allocation for the drivers,  which has now increased from three to four for the 2024 season. 

Another technical update featured the earlier introduction of the DRS usage. From the 2024 season, drivers will not have to wait for two laps after the beginning of the race or a safety car restart, but will be allowed to use the extra technology after a single lap.