Radical Overhaul Proposed for F1 Sprint Race Format

Formula 1 are contemplating changes to the Sprint Race setup as there's a view that the present system doesn't have the thrill factor.


By Ben Bush
Updated on February 8, 2024

2023 US Grand Prix Sprint Race

The top brass of Formula 1 are contemplating significant changes to the sprint race setup as there’s a consensus that the present system falls short in the thrill factor.

The recent uneventful Sprint Race during the United States Grand Prix, highlighted by an unexpected dip in fan enthusiasm and ticket sales, has underscored the urgency for transformation.

Despite F1’s staunch dedication to retaining Sprint Race weekends in the foreseeable future, insiders reveal that bosses are mulling over a dramatic restructuring.

Though no official plans have been drafted for potential adjustments, which might be introduced by 2024, Motorsport.com has gathered that informal talks have kicked off in the paddock regarding potential enhancements.

Informants emphasise that F1 is open to executing a comprehensive revamp of the Sprint, instead of just minor tweaks.

Word has it that a myriad of groundbreaking proposals are currently on the table.

Among these is transforming Saturdays into an independent F1 Sprint championship. In this scenario, points secured on Saturday wouldn’t contribute to the primary F1 championships’ tally.

Such a move could prevent the results in Qatar, where the championship was clinched during a Sprint Race, sidelining the main Grand Prix.

To boost engagement and seriousness in the Sprint Race, introducing a significant monetary incentive for winners, possibly sponsored, with a potential prize reaching up to $1 million, is also being pondered.

Possible changes to distinguish a Sprint from the main Grand Prix might encompass a reverse grid system. This could involve swapping the positions of the top ten or even rearranging the entire sequence from end to start.

For determining grid positions in such a Sprint, options like basing it on the reverse championship standings or a qualifying procedure that still urges teams to aim for an optimal lap time are being considered.

The push for revamping the Sprint gained traction when Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, commented in Austin, expressing discontent with the prevailing regulations.

He articulated, “I think you have got to add a bit more jeopardy to it. Whether you do a reverse the top 10 or something, you’ve got to add enough points to it to make it worth the drivers to really go for it.”

However, not every team leader shares Horner’s enthusiasm for such a transformative approach to the sprint.

Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes, believes that adopting the reverse grid approach compromises the essence of F1, which is celebrated for the authenticity of its contest.

Questioned by Motorsport.com about his perspective, he remarked, “I’m conservative in racing. I’d rather have no sprint races than if you start to meddle. Even more with reverse grid races, we are going towards junior formulae where sport follows entertainment, while entertainment should follow sport.

“Creating artificial gaming around the sprint race on a Saturday is not the way that I would favour personally. But that’s my opinion. All teams, together with Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO], we just need to think about what is best.”

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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