Formula One’s first sprint weekend of the season in Azerbaijan at the end of April will have a second qualifying session instead of final practice, with Saturday’s 100km race a standalone event, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur said.
Teams had agreed the change, which has yet to be confirmed by the governing FIA, Vasseur told reporters.
“(In) Baku, you have the two qualis and the two races and we have to be able as a team to do a better job,” the Frenchman, talking about his team’s poor start to the 2023 campaign, said on a video call.
Previous sprint weekends had a practice session on Friday followed by a qualifying for Saturday’s race. The top eight in that sprint, which set the grid for Sunday’s main grand prix, scored points.
The second practice session sat awkwardly before the sprint race.
Now there will be just one practice followed by a Friday qualifying for Sunday’s race and then another qualifying on Saturday for the sprint, which still awards points but no longer has a direct link to the grand prix.
“For once I think all the teams were aligned. It’s not very often that it’s the case so we have to jump on it,” said Vasseur.
“I like the format. I’m not a big fan of the usual FP2 (second practice), sometimes it’s a bit boring... To try to have something more dynamic during the weekend is a good decision.
“If you watch football you are not watching the session on Wednesday when they are training in the stadium, and we are probably the only sport where we are putting on TV the training session.”
The other sprint races this season will be in Austria, Belgium, Qatar, Austin and Brazil.
Formula One Chief Executive Stefano Domenicali has backed the idea of reducing practice and giving fans more entertainment.