2023 Sprint Race calendar
Last year there were three “short” races and for this season that figure is doubled, with the F1 Sprint taking place at six out of the 23 race weekends. They are at Baku, Red Bull Ring, Spa-Francorchamps, Losail, Austin and Interlagos. This year, a radical new format for the weekend is being adopted with a Saturday shoot-out.
A Sprint weekend has a very different timetable to a regular Grand Prix. After just one free practice session in the morning, Friday afternoon sees qualifying take place to decide the grid order for Sunday’s Grand Prix. The sprint regulations have now changed so that the driver who is quickest in qualifying goes down in the record books as having secured pole position for the Grand Prix. The session will run to the same format as every other Grand Prix: 18 minutes for Q1, 15 for Q2 and 12 for Q3.
But this year, the Sprint becomes a one-off event in its own right, all taking place on the Saturday. Sprint Qualifying takes place first, split into three sessions, shorter than the normal ones, with 12 minutes for Q1, 10 for Q2 and just 8 for Q3. This decides the order for the F1 Sprint to be run later that same day – a short race, running over around one third distance of the main event. The first eighth finishers will score points, from 8 for the winner down to 1 for eighth place. Sunday sticks to the traditional format with the cars lining up on the grid based on their Friday qualifying performance.
This means there is only one free practice session on a Sprint weekend, instead of the usual three. As from the start of the first qualifying session, the cars are already under parc ferme conditions and no changes are allowed to major elements of the car. This means the teams have less time to fine-tune the cars, making the outcome of the weekend even more unpredictable and exciting.