F1 confirm plans to increase number of sprint races
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 7th May, 2023 - 2:45am
F1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali has confirmed plans to again increase the number of sprint races at grand prix weekends.
Following their introduction in 2021, for the first two years, there were three sprint race weekends.
For this season, the number has doubled to six, with the first of those last weekend in Azerbaijan, with the others to be staged in Austria, Belgium, Qatar, United States (Austin) and Brazil.
Domenicali, however, would like to make further additions.
“The result of the first one of this year (in Azerbaijan) has been very encouraging,” said Domenicali, speaking in an investor call in which Liberty Media announced its first-quarter results.
“Everyone of our partners, promoters, media partners, and also the teams, were very positive about that.
“Of course, there is something that we want to take as a lesson learned to see at the end of summer if there is something that we can learn to do something better.
“But in general terms, the first weekend of the sprint format has been great.”
F1 following other sports in providing more entertainment
In terms of the total audience across the three-day weekend in Baku, F1 has reported an 11 percent increase compared to the 2022 event.
Notably, there was a 66 percent increase for the sessions on Friday – practice and qualifying versus two practice sessions in 2022, whilst the sprint shootout provided a 40 percent lift in comparison to last year’s FP3.
The only minor blemish is that there was just a one percent increase in the figures for the sprint and grand prix against qualifying and main race last year.
Undaunted, Domenicali feels there is room for the sprint to grow to eight weekends across a 23- or 24-race calendar.
“When you want to do something different in a very standardised ecosystem, the reaction of the, let’s say, the traditional fans is the one that needs to be awaited for longer term,” added Domenicali.
“But normally with the new fans, we’ve seen a very, very positive reaction.
“The promoters are pushing for it, but we don’t want to go in a situation where in the future we’re going to have all the races with the sprint format.
“We want to keep a limited number, maybe one-third of the calendar, and create something special with regard to the competition that we can give sporting value with trophies and, of course, commercial opportunities. That’s the right way to go.”
Outlining where he sees motorsport heading for the future, not just F1, in particular, he said: “Another thing I think is important, is that I see a big trend today in motorsport not to be stable, let’s say, to not stay consistent with the regulations.
“We are just following what baseball and the NBA have done, which means all professional sports need to listen to the requests and the input that the fans, promoters, and partners are providing – to have more excitement around the game.”
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