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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

F1 in talks to overhaul sprint format for 2024

Formula 1 is in talks with teams to implement a sprint format overhaul for the 2024 season that would see the two qualifying sessions swap places, it has emerged.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, the rest of the field at the start of the Sprint race

F1 changed the format of its six sprint weekends for this year. Instead of the sprint race setting the grid for Sunday's main grand prix, the sprint received a separate qualifying session on Saturday, disconnecting it from the rest of the weekend.

But with qualifying for the main race on Friday and Saturday being a standalone sprint day, the interrupted flow of the weekend has caused confusion among fans.

It also hamstrung the teams as it saw their cars placed under parc ferme rules from Friday's sole free practice session onwards, a point teams are pushing to relax.

Following feedback from fans and teams, talks have started between F1 and its teams to come up with a format overhaul for 2024 that will bring the six sprint weekends more in line with a traditional grand prix schedule.

One proposal is for qualifying for Sunday's grand prix to return to its typical Saturday afternoon slot, with the sprint race held on Saturday morning.

The sprint shootout that sets the grid for the sprint race would then be moved to Friday afternoon following a single free practice session.

That could open the opportunity for parc ferme to be re-opened after the Saturday morning sprint to allow teams to make set-up changes ahead of grand prix qualifying.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Alex Albon, Williams FW45, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

"We've been talking with Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO]," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1. "Obviously, it's his decision, but then you can correlate it easier.

"You do the sprint shootout [on Friday] and then the second qualifying for the race, which would be Saturday, two o'clock is the time we know. And it would create maybe less confusion."

Aston Martin's performance director Tom McCullough also backed the proposed changes after noticing that the current format isn't as fan-friendly as intended.

"We obviously had the Sporting Advisory committee meeting this week and there have been discussions about how to improve how we go about the sprint event," he added.

"The sprint event was brought in for a reason, the fans. From a technical point of view, it's a headache, the car goes into parc ferme after one practice session and it is difficult. But from a commercial side and from a fan side, I think there are elements that are exciting.

"It's been tweaked already and I think it needs tweaking a bit more because now even my dad, who's quite an understander and follower of Formula 1 sometimes says to me: 'So just remind me, is it qualifying on Friday for the main race?'

"And I just think if somebody at that level is having questions, the fans are going to get confused. So, our job is to put a simpler, better, more understandable format and still have the excitement of two races."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Erik Junius

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Ferrari sporting director Diego Ioverno cautioned that teams need to be given enough time to react between a Saturday morning sprint race and the following qualifying session for the grand prix.

"If you move the sprint race on Saturday morning, then you have to make sure that you allow enough gap for teams to react for qualifying in case of problems," he said.

"There are also other options on the table. There is still not a definite proposal but our target will be once that FIA and F1 decide the format, teams will have to work together to make it good for the spectators and good for us, because it's quite tricky."

 

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