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F1 reveals rules for new 'sprint shootout' qualifying session

Formula 1's revised sprint weekend regulations were rubber-stamped on Tuesday, with the new standalone sprint qualifying session on Saturday to be known as the 'sprint shootout.'

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

The new format will be used for the first time this weekend in Azerbaijan, the first of the six sprint weekends on the 2023 schedule, with the Austrian, Belgian, Qatar, USA and Sao Paulo events to follow.

The changes have been designed to create a standalone Saturday event that doesn't impact the grid for Sunday's main race in an attempt to encourage drivers to push harder, as a mistake will be less costly.

The revised weekend timetable also addresses the issue of the previously largely redundant Saturday FP2 session, which no longer exists.

The rules were finalised during the April break after lengthy discussions by the team sporting directors and the FIA in the Sporting Advisory Committee.

They were approved by a unanimous vote at today's meeting of the F1 Commission, prior to being officially passed by the World Motor Sport Council.

As expected, on Fridays FP1 will be followed by race qualifying, with the grid for the main event set unless any extra penalties have to be applied.

Mechanics on the grid prior to the start

Mechanics on the grid prior to the start

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

The Saturday sprint shootout will follow the same three-part format as traditional qualifying, with the reduced session lengths now confirmed as 12 minutes for what will be known as SQ1, 10 minutes for SQ2, and eight minutes for SQ3. 

The sprint shootout sets the grid for Saturday afternoon's sprint race.

The use of tyres on a sprint weekend was the subject of much discussion given that only 12 rather than 13 sets are available, and that the hour of FP2 running has been replaced by the shootout.

It has been decided that teams will have to use save three sets of new tyres to use across the three shootout sessions, with mediums mandatory for both SQ1 and SQ2, and softs for SQ3.

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The allocation of driving penalties was another source of discussion given the attempt to make the sprint day independent of the grand prix. It has been agreed that any incurred in the sprint and that is not served in it will be applied to the main race on Sunday.

The FIA has clarified the allocation of penalties as follows:

- A grid penalty incurred in Practice or Qualifying will apply to the Race.

- A grid penalty incurred in the Shootout will apply to the Sprint.

- A grid penalty incurred in the Sprint will apply to the Race.

- A breach of parc fermé will result in a pitlane start for the Sprint and Race.

- PU penalties will only apply to the Race (unless they are also a parc fermé breach).

As previously, gearbox and power unit penalties incurred over the weekend will be saved for the grand prix.

The points allocation for the sprint remains unchanged, with the top eight scoring on the basis of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

A joint FIA/F1 statement said: "Following this successful vote and subsequent approval by the World Motor Sport Council by e-vote, all stakeholders believe that this will boost the spectacle of Sprint weekends and enhance track action for fans around the world.

"Thanks to the close working relationship between the FIA, FOM as well as the sport's ten Formula 1 teams, moving the changes from concept to regulation has been accomplished swiftly and positively."

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