Steiner gives his verdict on F1’s new Sprint format. For the Haas team boss – who has championed the introduction of the new Sprint format in Formula 1 – the weekend in Azerbaijan was generally positive. Not a surprising opinion for many.
A strong advocate of the new Sprint weekend format that was introduced last week in Azerbaijan long before he had actually tested it, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has given his verdict after the dust settled.
New F1 format
Last month, Formula One confirmed adjustments to the F1 Sprint format for the six events that will take place throughout the 2023 season, starting with last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
With the new format, Fridays now include a Free Practice 1 session and a standard qualifying session to set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, while Saturdays consist of the 100km Sprint race with an additional qualifying session called the Sprint Shootout.
The Shootout is a shorter qualifying session than traditional qualifying, with SQ1 scheduled to last 12 minutes, SQ2 for 10 minutes and SQ3 for eight minutes. This ‘Shootout’ qualifying session replaces the free practice 2 previously scheduled on Saturday mornings during Sprint weekends.
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Just before the new format was introduced in Baku, Guenther Steiner said that he had no problem with half of the calendar being run in the new Sprint format:
“I think it’s a good choice for the weekend to have Sprint qualifying,” Steiner said before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“You have to see how it works with the fans, if they like it, what the feedback is, and then decide what to do next. But at the moment I’m very supportive of Sprint qualifying.”
“Saturday morning’s practice session became almost worthless because no one was watching it, the teams couldn’t make any changes to the car other than trying the tyres for the race, so there wasn’t really any interest.”
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Did it work?
Asked again after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix if he felt the new format had lived up to expectations, the Italian said:
“As an event it went well. It was the first one and a lot of things happened during the race weekend and we still have to think about it.”
“For example, if we do qualifying for the Grand Prix on Friday, do we have to stay disconnected with the race on Sunday and what happens in between on Saturday?”
“I don’t know the verdict yet, but FOM [Formula One Management] will ask the fans to see what they have to say and see if we need to change that, but overall I’m very happy with what has happened.”
“It’s pretty intense for the teams and the drivers but that’s what it should be, in my opinion. I questioned Saturday’s free practice, and it’s not boring anymore with qualifying – it’s just the opposite – and that’s what we want.”
“Overall, we should move forward and we should look at the details to see if we need to make small changes or not.”
As well as the Baku city circuit in Azerbaijan, other venues hosting Sprint weekends for 2023 include Austria (Red Bull Ring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Qatar (Circuit de Losail), the USA (Circuit of the Americas) and Sao Paulo (Interlagos).
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