Formula 1 is Doubling Down on Sprint Racing

Photo credit: ANP - Getty Images
Photo credit: ANP - Getty Images

Do you like Formula 1's experiment with sprint qualifying races on some race weekends in 2021 and 2022? Well, F1 isn't waiting for you to answer, so we hope the answer is yes!

F1 has ramped up its sprint racing program for the 2023 season, adding three more events to bring the total to six race weekends featuring both a spring qualifying race and a traditional Sunday feature that still holds the full title and points of a grand prix. While the series has not yet announced which six races will get those events, they have so far gone to races at Silverstone, Monza, Imola, the Red Bull Ring, and, in both seasons, Interlagos.

Oddly, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas have combined to win all five sprint races ever held. So far, the sprint race winner has won from pole in the next day's grand prix just once; Verstappen took that honor in this year's race weekend at Imola.

While most sprint races have largely been relatively conservative affairs defined by leading teams choosing to save their cars for Sunday, the 2021 race at Interlagos was the event most directly changed by sprint qualifying. Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the traditional knockout qualifying session for a DRS infringement, but was able to use the extra race weekend distance to climb up to fifth in the race. He would take an additional five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race due to an engine change, then climb to the race lead and eventually win from tenth on the grid.

By adding additional sprint races, Formula 1 is able to expand its total on-track offerings racing without further expanding an already-packed 24-round calendar. It means the series will race an absurd 30 times in 2023, a record by a comfortable margin.

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