Next week sees the Azerbaijan Grand Prix host the first sprint weekend of the year and looks to see a new format come forward for sprint races.
The new format has been agreed by teams and look to be agreed next week just before the race weekend in Baku. The original format saw FP1 take place on a Friday morning before qualifying for the sprint race took place on a Friday afternoon. FP2 would then be completed on Saturday morning with the sprint race taking place on the Saturday afternoon with the results from that race shaping the grid for the grand prix on Sunday.
The revised format however sees the sprint race become a standalone event. On Friday morning FP1 will happen as normal with qualifying on the afternoon. However this qualifying session will be setting the grid for the race on Sunday. This means that the sprint race will not be setting the grid on Sunday.
Saturday will have the biggest changes when it comes to a sprint race weekend. FP2 will no longer take place and will be replaced by a shorter version of qualifying to determine the grid for the sprint race. This will drivers to take more risks in both the sprint qualifying and the sprint race. The old format limited drivers to the risks they could take in the sprint because it could ruin their entire weekend.
Drivers have shared their praise with the change in format and making the sprint race a standalone event from the grand prix itself. With the sprint now not having an effect on the race drivers can push more in the sprint race without comprising their weekend.
Carlos Sainz has revealed that the GPDA were pushing for Formula 1 to split the weekend so that the grand prix had no carry on effect from the saturday sprint race. Sainz hoped the new format would call for more action overall across the weekend by reducing practice sessions and having two qualifying sessions for the two races.
Charles Leclerc, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Nyck De Vries all shared their delight with the change in format thinking that these changes will create a more positive effect for the fans and the drivers.
The sprint races had seen a lot of backlash from fans as it created confusion when it came to qualifying and what is seen as a pole position. The change in sprint weekends also saw the drivers pleased that the FIA and F1 took their advice onboard and listened to the direction they wanted to go in so that the fans and drivers get more entertainment and excitement.
You can find out all the information you need on the Azerbaijan Grand Prix here.