Qualifying tweak set for Baku sprint race

Fri, 21 April 2023, 09:00

Apr.21 (GMM) The proposed tweaks to the ‘sprint race’ format are set to be set in stone ahead of the first such weekend of 2023 in Azerbaijan next weekend.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali wants to spice up the format by deleting a practice session so that there are separate qualifying sessions for both the sprint and the main grand prix.

It is believed the teams have already voted unanimously in favour of the new format, although there have been some logistical concerns raised – for example by Pirelli, whose tyre allocations for Baku were shipped some time ago.

“We’re very close to finalising the format,” Aston Martin sporting director Andy Stevenson said this week.

“We’ve been working closely with the FIA and going through it carefully with our engineers and strategists to make sure it’s workable. We all support the new format, but we need to make sure that the regulations are going to work as intended.”

Stevenson said the teams support the move because drivers will be able to “push harder and take more risks” in the sprint, because the results will no longer determine the grid order for Sunday’s all-important grand prix.

“It’s going to be an extremely exciting weekend,” Stevenson said.

Some, however, go further in questioning the wisdom of making Baku the first sprint race of 2023.

“The reality is it’s absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first sprint race of the year at a street race like Azerbaijan,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

“But I think from a spectacle point of view, from a fan point of view, it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting sprint races of the year.

“From a cost gap perspective, all you can do is trash your car and it costs a lot of money around there. One race is enough in Baku, so to have two – there could well be some action there,” he added.

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