The FIA has announced that the number of sprint weekends in Formula 1 will increase from three to six from next season onwards.
Formula 1 trialled the new format for the first time in 2021, with three sprint events that take place over a one-third race distance, based on a standard qualifying session on a Friday which then forms the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
Plans had been in place for six sprints to take place this season, but this was dropped back to the three that had been used per last season’s schedule.
The initial reasoning behind the additional action was to add to the experience of race-attending fans, with Ross Brawn saying previously that Fridays had previously been for “aficionados” due to it being dedicated to free practice, but insisted he did not want to see sprints “cannibalise” the main spectacle on race weekends.
But the altered weekend structure puts qualifying back to the Friday of a race weekend, with the sprint following on Saturday before the main action takes place on Sunday.
The FIA claims the shortened ‘race’ format has been a “popular update” to the sport since it was trialled, with two Sprints having already taken place at the Emilia Romagna and Austrian Grands Prix so far this year, with another to come at Interlagos later in the season.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said upon the announcement: “The confirmation that six race weekends featuring Sprint will take place from the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship season onwards is another example of the continued growth and prosperity at the highest level of motor sport.
“Thanks to close collaboration with Stefano Domenicali and our colleagues at FOM, we concluded a thorough analysis on the impact of additional Sprint sessions, and have adjusted relevant parameters of our work to ensure that they continue to be regulated at the very highest level.
“Sprint sessions provide an exciting dynamic to the race weekend format and have proven to be popular over the past two seasons – I am sure that this positive trend will continue and am pleased that the World Motor Sport Council has today given its approval for them to go ahead.”
Formula 1 CEO Domenicali added: “I am pleased that we can confirm six Sprints will be part of the Championship from 2023 onwards, building on the success of the new format introduced for the first time in 2021.
“The Sprint provides action across three days with the drivers all fighting for something right from the start on Friday through to the main event on Sunday – adding more drama and excitement to the weekend.
“The feedback from the fans, teams, promoters, and partners has been very positive and the format is adding a new dimension to Formula 1, and we all want to ensure its success in the future.”