Sprint 2024 China format: finally a sensible solution?  / System 1

Sprint 2024 China format: finally a sensible solution? / System 1

Formula 1 has once again changed the schedule for the short race weekend, starting in China on April 19. There is some debate among GP fans as to whether this makes sense.

In July 2021, the Formula 1 weekend was held at Silverstone for the first time in a format called sprint, at that time with free practice and qualifying for the Grand Prix on Friday, and free practice and racing on Saturday, with the results of the Sprints then set starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

From 2023 things were different: free training on Friday, then qualifying on Sunday. From now on, Saturday stood on its own, with sprint qualifying followed by the 100km Mini-GP on Saturday and the World Championship race on Sunday.

Now another change, because in 2024 the six sprint weekends will run like this (Shanghai, Miami, Spielberg, Austin, Interlagos, Doha): Free practice on Friday, then qualifying run. Sprint on Saturday morning and Grand Prix qualifying in the afternoon. World Cup Championship on Sunday.

Background: According to the 2023 regulations, it was no longer allowed to conduct voting from Friday afternoon. In other words, anyone who messed up their settings looked old for the rest of the weekend or had no choice but to break the parc fermé rule and then start from far behind.

If the changed format is a big success it will be seen from April 19th at the Shanghai International Circuit. The design remains controversial among fans and experts.

Many Formula 1 fans have not changed their minds: the different weekend format is the answer to a question that no one had asked. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

The latest changes to the 2024 are just one of many, as our little tour through the various eligible models shows.

1950-1996: Final training twice
Before Formula 1 was introduced, starting positions were given. But that changed with the start of the Formula 1 World Championship: one important practice session on Friday and one on Saturday. Nothing has changed for 46 years, even if there were many nuances. We remember the qualifying tires that went into the barrel after a fast lap; Also unforgettable are the minute burners of the most powerful turbo engines in the 80s, with values ​​over 1300 hp.

Considering today’s small field of 20 cars, many people look back with fondness when pre-qualification had to be started in the late 80s. Up to 39 cars wanted to participate in the GP, so a brutal thirty-minute practice session took place on Friday morning.

The biggest disadvantage of the long-used format: After Friday in good weather, Saturday in the rain meant that the times could not be improved again. Something had to change.

1996–2002: The moment of truth
From now on, the pole position man was searched for only 60 minutes and a maximum of twelve rounds. What was meant to be excitement sometimes turned into a yawning formula – the best drivers often waited until the end of qualifying to go on track, when the slower cars had cleared the track and the track was at its best. So another change.

2003: There can only be one
The obvious solution to the problem: Each car goes on the track individually. Pros – the back seats receive as much attention as the main drivers. On Friday there was one hour in this format, the drivers left in the order of the World Cup standings. Then on Saturday the decision was made, this time the fastest driver on Friday being the first driver on the track, and the fastest last. On Saturday, the amount of fuel used to start the race was also used. Cons: Changing weather conditions made qualifying a lottery.

2004: Everything Saturday
The two matches of the same round have been postponed until Saturday. New at the start parallel to the run of the previous race. The two places were now so close that clever people began to drive wisely in the changing weather. Something like deliberately making a mistake in the first part in order to be able to drive at the start of the second part – because the rain was coming and it would be bad to be on the track towards the end of practice.

2005: Pull out your calculators!
So the solution: The times of the two individual performances were added together again. One lap on Saturday morning with less oil, one lap on Sunday morning with the same amount of oil that started the race. Nobody liked this system because Saturday was devalued. After six GP weekends it was over. The remaining thirteen qualifying sessions were run only on Saturday, using racing fuel.

2006/2007: Eliminated
Eventually more rounds could be completed again, but for the first time there was an elimination process with three qualifying groups. The fans thought that was very good, but it was not perfect – because in the end you still had to use the same amount of fuel that the driver intended to take in the race.

2008/2009: Minor changes
The three-part qualification remained, but now the fuel could not be refilled after Q3.

2010: Today’s design
Refueling during the race was not a thing of the past, so the pilots could finally go out on the field in the final practice with very little fuel and let it tire them out.

2016: A failed attempt
The elimination process was introduced for the 2016 season – the clock runs and the slowest driver is eliminated at regular intervals. This should promote the element of surprise. In practice, everyone was interested in the view of the clock counting down, rather than what was happening on the track. Some racing teams sent their pilots to the track late and thus exposed themselves to ridicule. Was it so difficult for the supposedly best strategists in the industry to calculate when their driver had to swerve to avoid being caught by a stopwatch? Any second grader can do it.

Embarrassing climax in the opening match of the World Cup in Australia: Minutes before the end of qualifying in Melbourne, theoretically the hottest phase of the final practice of Formula 1, now everything should be on the line for the best Grand drivers Prix ​​in the world. Who is the fastest man at Albert Park? And then this: On the train – nobody. The fans left the stadium, many of them shaking their heads in disbelief at what they witnessed. Many are condemning, it is quite right. Formula 1 had once again embarrassed itself to the bone.

Angry fans demanded their money back, drivers and team bosses complained, and what did the Formula 1 management of the time do? He sent the field to the track again in the elimination process in Bahrain. The results were not much better, but the anger of the fans was greater. Result: For the third round of the World Cup in China in 2016, Formula 1 returned to the tried and tested system – until the introduction of sprints.

In pole position for sprint
Silverstone 2021 – Lewis Hamilton (GB), Mercedes
Monza 2021 – Valtteri Bottas (FIN), Mercedes
Interlagos 2021 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Imola 2022 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Ring 2022 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Interlagos 2022 – Kevin Magnussen (DK), Haas
Baku 2023 – Charles Leclerc (MC), Ferrari
Spielberg 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Francorchamps 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Qatar 2023 – Oscar Piastri (AUS), McLaren-Mercedes
Austin 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Interlags 2023 – Lando Norris (GB), McLaren
All race winners
Silverstone 2021 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Monza 2021 – Valtteri Bottas (FIN), Mercedes
Interlagos 2021 – Valtteri Bottas (FIN), Mercedes
Imola 2022 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Ring 2022 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Interlagos 2022 – George Russell (GB), Mercedes
Baku 2023 – Sergio Pérez (MEX), Red Bull Racing
Spielberg 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Francorchamps 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Qatar 2023 – Oscar Piastri (AUS), McLaren-Mercedes
Austin 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing
Interlagos 2023 – Max Verstappen (NL), Red Bull Racing

Formula 1 World Championship 2024
02.03. Bahrain-GP, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir
09.03. Saudi-Arabien-GP, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Dschidda
24.03. Australian GP, ​​Albert Park Circuit, Melbourne
07.04. Japan-GP, Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka
21.04. China-GP, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai *
05.05. Miami-GP, Miami International Autodrome, Miami *
19.05. Emilia Romagna-GP, Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari, Imola
26.05. Monaco-GP, Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo
09.06. Canada-GP, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal
23.06. Spanien-GP, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmeló
June 30 The Austrian Doctor, The Red Bull Ring, Spielberg *
07.07. Britannia-GP, Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone
21.07. Hungarian GP, ​​Hungary, Budapest
28.07. Belgian-GP, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Business
25.08. Dutch GP, Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort
01.09. Italien-GP, Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza
15.09. Azerbaijan-GP, Baku City Circuit, Baku
22.09. Singapore-GP, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore
20.10. Austin-GP, Circuit of the Americas, Austin *
27.10. Mexico-GP, Hermann Rodriguez Autodrome, Mexico-Stadt
03.11. Brasilien-GP, Autodromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagos *
23.11. Las Vegas-GP, Las Vegas Street Circuit, Las Vegas
01.12. Qatar-GP, Losail International Circuit, Doha *
08.12. Abu Dhabi-GP, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island

* im Sprint-Format