Fred Vasseur is a vocal proponent for the sprint qualifying changes mooted for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend in two weeks’ time will be the first race of the 2023 season to use the ‘sprint qualifying’ format which was used at three events last season.
However, a key change to the format is set for introduction that weekend, although said format change is yet to be formally confirmed by F1.
The change would essentially separate the sprint entirely from the rest of the Grand Prix weekend, with Friday playing host to practice and qualifying for the race on Sunday.
Qualifying for the sprint would then be held on Saturday morning, with the sprint race itself held on Saturday – the result of which no longer having any impact on the starting order for the Grand Prix. The thinking is that by isolating the sprint running from the rest of the weekend, drivers may be less cautious during the 30-minute race due to the lower likelihood of it damaging their race prospects.
Fred Vasseur likes the dynamics of the proposed new format
Discussions between team bosses at the Australian Grand Prix resulted in a positive outlook for the format. PlanetF1.com understands the format has reached unanimous approval, but the full ratification process of going up the ladder from the F1 Commission to the World Motor Sport Council for rubberstamping is required before confirmation for Azerbaijan.
Ferrari team boss Vasseur is welcoming of the changes to the sprint format, which will be used at an increased six events this season.
“For once, I think all the teams were aligned,” Vasseur told media, as quoted by Reuters.
“It’s not very often that it’s the case so we have to jump on it.”
The usual sprint format up until now has resulted in a second practice being awkwardly lumped in on Saturday mornings – a session which was largely irrelevant as parc ferme conditions had already kicked in from the start of qualifying on Friday. As a result of the proposed changes, Vasseur sees the weekends becoming more “dynamic”.
“I like the format,” he said.
“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.”
Assuming the sprint changes are ratified in time for Azerbaijan, the other race weekends which will host the same format are Austria, Belgium, Qatar, United States, and Brazil.
What is the proposed new sprint format likely used in Azerbaijan?
– Friday: Practice & Qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix (standard qualifying format with Q1, Q2, Q3)
– Saturday: Qualifying for Sprint Race (standard, albeit shortened, format with Q1, Q2, Q3), followed by Sprint Race. Sprint result will yield points, but will have no influence on starting order for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
– Sunday: Grand Prix.