Half the F1 calendar could become sprint races, says Guenther Steiner

20 April 2023 - 21:37 By Reuters
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Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said there would still be a need for some race weekends with three practice sessions and just a Sunday grand prix but the current Saturday sprint format needed changing.
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner said there would still be a need for some race weekends with three practice sessions and just a Sunday grand prix but the current Saturday sprint format needed changing.
Image: Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images

Half the Formula One calendar could be turned into sprint weekends if changes to the format are given the go-ahead and prove a hit in Baku next week, says Haas team boss Guenther Steiner.

The sport is due to vote next week on changing the sprint format from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix so that the Saturday 100km race stands alone, with its own qualifying replacing final practice.

MotoGP has already turned its whole calendar into two-race weekends, with a sprint on Saturday and the main event on Sunday.

Formula One has scheduled six sprints this season, up from three last year.

“I don’t know if we will do it every race weekend. Maybe do a few more or maybe do half of the calendar. But the F1 promoter will know what to do,” Steiner told Reuters in an interview through team sponsor MoneyGram.

“At the moment there is more demand for races (than slots available) so how can you get more races in, more competition, more racing if we cannot do more than 24 events? So just make the event double count.”

This season has a record 23 races but 2024 is expected to see the return of China after a four-year Covid-induced absence.

Steiner said there would still be a need for some race weekends with three practice sessions and just a Sunday grand prix but the current Saturday sprint format needed changing.

“The FP3 (third practice) session on Saturday morning became almost worthless because nobody was watching it, the teams couldn’t do any changes on the car except trying the tyre out for the race so there was no real interest,” he said.

“So I think it is a good addition to the weekend to put a sprint qualifying in.

“You have to see how it works with the fans, if they like it, how the numbers come back and then decide what to do as the next step. But at the moment I support very much the sprint qualifying.”

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