Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023: Start time, new format, weather and live stream

Sam Cooper
McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. Baku June 2022.

Daniel Ricciardo leads Lando Norris through the castle section in qualifying. Azerbaijan June 2022.

After a four-week break, Formula 1 is back as racing gets back underway in Baku for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Not only is Formula 1 returning, it is also back with a brand new format as for the first time ever, fans attending the circuit on Saturday will be able to watch the Sprint Shootout.

The Baku race is the first of six sprint weekends this year and is also the first race of the European leg of the F1 calendar.

As usual, Max Verstappen and Red Bull approach the weekend as favourites but with teams having had an extended period to work on their cars, we could see some surprises up and down the grid.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: What is the new sprint format that has been introduced?

Having long been rumoured, official ratification was given on Tuesday for a new sprint weekend structure that would see the number of practice sessions stripped down to just one which will take place on Friday morning.

Now, Saturday has become a sprint-dedicated day as the morning session sees a modified qualifying session to decide the grid for the sprint race before the race itself in the afternoon.

As for the main grand prix, qualifying for that will be set on Friday afternoon, breaking the usual sprint format which saw the classified grid for the sprint race deciding the line-up for Sunday’s race.

Crucially as well, the sprint qualifying, dubbed the ‘Sprint Shootout’, will be a shortened version of qualifying and have strict tyre rules.

SQ1 is set to run for 12 minutes, SQ2 for 10 minutes and SQ3 for eight minutes. New tyres are mandatory for each phase, with mediums for SQ1 and SQ2, and softs for SQ3.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: What are the start times for each session this weekend?

Friday, April 28

Free Practice 1 – 13:30 – 14:30 local [10:30 – 11:30 UK time]
Qualifying for Sunday’s race – 17:00 – 18:00 local [14:00 – 15:00 UK time]

Saturday, April 29

Sprint Shootout – 12:30 – 13:14 local [09:30 – 10:14 UK time]
Sprint – 17:30 – 18:00 local [14:30 – 15:00 UK time]

Sunday, April 30

Race – 15:00 local [12:00 UK time]

Where does the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix take place?

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place in the capital Baku located in the east of the country. It sits on the coast of the Caspian Sea and is 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, making it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world below sea level.

The race was first hosted at this venue as the European Grand Prix in 2016 before being rebranded as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix a year later.

Aside from the COVID-impacted 2020 season, it has been on the schedule ever since and is known for its tight corners and narrow track, especially near the Baku Fortress Wall.

How can I live stream the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Formula 1 is available to watch via different TV broadcasters depending on which country you reside in, and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is available to watch live on the following channels in the following major countries in 2023:

Australia: Fox Sports, Network 10
Austria: Sky Sport F1, ORF, Servus TV [live races split between them]
Brazil: TV Bandeirantes, BandSports
Canada: RDS, TSN
China: Great Sport (RTS) [Shanghai only], CCTV, Guangdong Sports [broadcast in Guangdong only]
France: Canal+
Germany: Sky Sport F1
Italy: Sky Sport F1 [delayed coverage on TV8]
Japan: Fuji TV Next
Netherlands: Viaplay Xtra [free-to-air highlights on NOS]
Spain: DAZN F1
United Kingdom and Ireland: Sky Sports F1 [free-to-air highlights on Channel 4]
United States: ESPN, Spanish language broadcast available on ESPN Deportes

For those looking to watch live races online, F1 TV Pro is available in selected countries, which allows you to watch every session live, have access to exclusive live timing, documentaries and live shows – and is available to watch on any of your chosen devices via web, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Roku and Chromecast.

F1 TV Pro* viewers can watch all the live action from all 23 race weekends this season completely ad-free! Click here for the ultimate F1 viewing experience.

*Available in selected territories only. Click here to see eligible territories.

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What is the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix weather forecast?

Thankfully for the team principals already fretting about the idea of a street circuit hosting a sprint race, they will at least not have to worry about the weather as well.

The Met Office forecasts under five percent chance of rain throughout the weekend with the weather expected to be sunny across the three days.

Friday will be the sunniest but coldest of the three days with highs of 20° while Sunday’s race will be the hottest at 25° despite being a little more overcast.

What are the tyre compounds for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Which drivers have won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Interestingly, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has thrown up a new winner every time a race has been held there with Daniel Ricciardo winning the first event back in 2017.

Lewis Hamilton then won in 2018 followed by Valterri Bottas in 2019 and when the sport returned to the track in 2021, the event was won by Sergio Perez following a dramatic end to the race.

Max Verstappen won his first Baku race last year and is the current favourite to make it two from two this weekend.

The first F1 race at the track in 2016 was won by Nico Rosberg.