F1 Baku 2023: Practice, qualifying, sprint shootout & race UK times for Azerbaijan Grand Prix
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Formula 1 has introduced a new format for sprint races ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the weekend. Drivers will now compete to qualify for their positions for Sunday’s GP on Friday with a new Sprint Shootout introduced for Saturday.
The sprint race - normally held on Saturday - has been made independent from the grand prix and will see drivers qualify during the sprint shootout. The shootout will be a shorter qualifying session, with the same knockout format but will set the grid for Saturday’s sprint race, instead of the actual grand prix.
Saturday’s sprint shootout will consist of three sessions, with the slowest five cars eliminated during the first two rounds. Sessions will however be reduced to just 12, 10 and eight minutes, from their previous 18, 15 and 12 minutes to give drivers less time to achieve a faster lap.
New tyre mandates will also be introduced with teams being made to use new tyres in each session. The use of tyres in a standard qualifying session were previously free choice but now teams will be forced to use medium compound tyres during the first two sessions and a soft tyre during the final session.
The new format was unanimously agreed by the F1 Commission - the rule-forming body consisting of the F1 governing body the FIA, commercial rights holder F1 and the teams themselves - during a meeting on Tuesday. It is hoped that the sprint shootout will encourage drivers to take more risks as well as adding more jeopardy to the races.
The rest of the six sprint weekends for the 2023 season will use the new format which also has the benefit of eliminating a Saturday practice session. This session will be replaced with the qualifying races for the sprint race instead.
How to watch the Azerbaijan GP
The Azerbaijan GP begins on Friday, April 28, with the qualifying race beginning at 2pm which will confirm the grid line-up for Sunday’s race. There is also a practice session ahead of the qualifying race that takes place at 10.30am.
On Saturday, April 29 the brand new Sprint Shootout will begin at 9.30am that will set the positions for the sprint race in the afternoon. The Azerbaijan sprint race will begin at 2.30pm.
The Azerbaijan grand prix will begin at 12.30pm with the race set to last under two hours. All coverage of the Formula 1 weekend can be watched on Sky Sports F1 with their full schedule available on their website.