(Motorsport-Total.com) – Six times in the 2024 season, Formula 1 will change its weekend format and host a sprint race on Saturdays. But how exactly does the so-called Formula 1 Sprint work? Are there points awarded for it? And what are the differences compared to the sprints of the 2023 season and previous years? We answer the most important questions on the topic!

What is a sprint race, actually?

A sprint race is a shortened version of the main race. Both the race distance and duration are reduced.

In motorsport, sprint races are not uncommon: The direct support series of Formula 1, Formula 2, has been using sprint races for many years. During this time, there have been some particularly spectacular sprint races in Formula 2, such as in Bahrain in 2017, when current Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc went from 14th place to victory in just eight laps after an unexpected pit stop.

In Formula 1, sprint races were introduced in 2021, then known as Sprint Qualifying. Since 2022, Formula 1 sprints have officially been called “Sprints”. 2024 will already mark the fourth year with sprint races in Formula 1.

Why are there sprint races in Formula 1?

“Excitement” is the keyword for Formula 1’s reasons for introducing sprints. The aim is to add more highlights to the race weekend. This way, each of the three days has something at stake: Friday in Sprint Qualifying, Saturday in the Sprint and Qualifying, and Sunday in the Grand Prix.

How many sprints are there in Formula 1 in 2024 and at which Grands Prix?

For the 2024 Formula 1 season, the parties have once again agreed on six sprint races. This is the same number as in 2023 and double the amount in 2022 and 2021, when only three sprints were held.

Already in 2022, there were supposed to be six sprints in the Formula 1 calendar for the first time. However, back then, mainly due to cost reasons, the execution of additional sprint races was waived and it remained at three. The switch to six race weekends with sprint format only occurred in 2023.

The sprint races in 2024 are scheduled for the following races: Shanghai (China), Miami (USA), Spielberg (Austria), Austin (USA), Sao Paulo (Brazil), and Lusail (Qatar).

The race weekends in Shanghai and Miami will be completed under the sprint format for the first time. They will replace the sprint weekends in Baku (Azerbaijan) and Spa (Belgium). These two tracks will join the list of former sprint locations such as Imola (2022), Silverstone (2021), and Monza (2021).

Spielberg, Austin, Sao Paulo, and Lusail have already been venues for Formula 1 sprint races on multiple occasions. Sao Paulo has been a sprint host every year, Spielberg three times, and for Austin and Lusail, 2024 will be their second sprint after 2023.

Where can I find results for the 2024 Formula 1 sprints?

In our results section, we provide all Formula 1 results for a race weekend. There, you will find, when available, the results of the sprint race and the starting grid for the Grand Prix.

The unofficial “Sprint World Championship” of the 2024 season

If sprint races in Formula 1 were to have their own standings, the current standings for the 2024 season (by points) would look like this:

8: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
7: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
6: Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
5: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
4: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3: Lando Norris (McLaren)
2: Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
1: George Russell (Mercedes)

14: Red Bull
9: Ferrari
8: Mercedes
5: McLaren

Who has won the previous Formula 1 sprint races?

Max Verstappen holds the record for the most wins in Formula 1 sprint races with eight victories in 13 sprints so far. Here is an overview of the previous sprint race winners:

Silverstone 2021: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Monza 2021: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
Sao Paulo 2021: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

Imola 2022: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Spielberg 2022: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Sao Paulo 2022: George Russell (Mercedes)

Baku 2023: Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
Spielberg 2023: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Spa 2023: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Lusail 2023: Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
Austin 2023: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Sao Paulo 2023: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Shanghai 2024: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Statistics for Formula 1 sprint races

Most wins – Drivers
8: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
1: George Russell (Mercedes)
1: Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
1: Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

Most wins – Teams
9: Red Bull
3: Mercedes
1: McLaren

Most points – Drivers
81: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
45: Carlos Sainz (McLaren, Ferrari)
45: Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
43: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
33: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
32: George Russell (Mercedes)
30: Lando Norris (McLaren)
17: Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
9: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes, Alfa Romeo)
8: Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
8: Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

Most points – Teams
126: Red Bull
88: Ferrari
72: Mercedes
51: McLaren
14: Aston Martin
13: Alpine
7: Haas
3: AlphaTauri
2: Alfa Romeo
2: Williams

What is the format for the 2024 Formula 1 sprint race?

The race distance for the Formula 1 sprint race is 100 kilometers, approximately one third of the usual Grand Prix distance (around 305 kilometers). The race duration is about 30 minutes.

There is free tire choice. Pit stops for tire changes are not mandatory, but not prohibited either. The Drag Reduction System (DRS) can be used as early as the second lap after the start or restart.

What is the points system for the 2024 sprint format?

After only the top 3 received points according to the 3-2-1 format in 2021, since the 2022 Formula 1 season, significantly more drivers are awarded points, namely the top 8. The points system is 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the top 8. These points are counted towards both the driver’s championship and the constructor’s championship.

How does the sprint affect the Grand Prix format?

Short answer: it doesn’t. Everything remains the same on Sunday. The only event is the main race over approximately 305 kilometers. The Grand Prix distance remains unchanged. However, the changed format results in schedule changes for the weekend.

What is the weekend format with sprint races exactly?

The schedule for the six planned weekends looks slightly different compared to the remaining events.

On Friday, there is only one Free Practice session lasting 60 minutes. This is followed not by the second Free Practice session as usual, but by the Sprint Qualifying, a shortened version of the normal Qualifying with three segments SQ1, SQ2, and SQ3.

The Sprint Qualifying is crucial for the starting grid for the sprint race.

The Formula 1 Saturday under the sprint format begins with the sprint race in the morning. In the Saturday afternoon, the drivers, like on other weekends, go into the normal Qualifying to determine the starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Unlike until 2022, the sprint race has no influence on the starting grid for the Grand Prix since 2023.

Sunday as always only features the Grand Prix.

The Sprint format at a glance:
Friday morning: 1st Free Practice
Friday afternoon: Sprint Qualifying, determines the starting grid for the Sprint
Saturday morning: Sprint
Saturday afternoon: Qualifying, determines the starting grid for the Grand Prix
Sunday afternoon: Grand Prix

How does the Sprint Qualifying work exactly?

In the Sprint Qualifying introduced in the 2023 season, all 20 drivers participate in a three-stage Qualifying session. The process is similar to the Qualifying on Friday. However, the individual segments SQ1, SQ2, and SQ3 are only twelve, ten, and eight minutes long (instead of 18, 15, and twelve minutes). At the end of each segment, the five slowest drivers are eliminated, leaving ten drivers in the final segment.

The tires are mandatory in the Sprint Shootout: in SQ1 and SQ2, the drivers must use the medium compound, while the soft compound is required in SQ3.

Qualifying or Sprint: In which unit is the pole position awarded?

The driver who sets the fastest time in Qualifying on Saturday receives the pole position for the Formula 1 statistics and starts in first place for the Grand Prix on Sunday. The sprint race is not relevant for this.

In 2021, the winner of the Sprint race officially received the pole position for the Grand Prix, leading to criticism. Therefore, there was a reversal for 2022, with the pole position officially being determined in Qualifying again. Since 2023, the pole position set in Qualifying is valid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Qualifying or Sprint: What determines the starting grid for the Grand Prix?

The starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday is determined by Qualifying on Saturday. The order in the Sprint has not been relevant for the starting order in the Grand Prix since 2023.

Sprint, Sprint Qualifying, Sprint Shootout – what is what?

Since the introduction of sprint races in Formula 1, the series has used different terms for the individual sprint units.

In 2021, the sprint races were known as “Sprint Qualifying”, since 2022 they have simply been called “Sprint”. In 2023, the Qualifying for the Sprint was officially called “Sprint Shootout”, and since 2024, this session is referred to as “Sprint Qualifying”.

What happens if a driver does not finish the sprint race?

If a driver retires or does not complete the distance in the sprint race, it is simply bad luck. A retirement has no sporting consequences for the Grand Prix on Sunday, as the starting grid is determined based on the Qualifying result, and Sprint Qualifying and the Sprint have been handled independently since 2023.

An exception, however, is if a driver is penalized with a starting position penalty in Sprint Qualifying or the Sprint.

What happens if a driver receives a starting position penalty in Sprint Qualifying or the Sprint?

Under the sprint format in place since 2023, the following applies for offenses: Starting position penalties imposed in Sprint Qualifying apply in the Sprint. Starting position penalties issued in the Sprint apply in the Grand Prix.

Starting position penalties issued in the first Free Practice or Qualifying also apply in the Grand Prix.

What happens if a car is damaged in the sprint race?

If a car is involved in an accident with damage during the sprint race, teams can repair the car until the Grand Prix the following day.

Are sprint races included in the budget cap?

No. Teams are allowed to spend an additional $300,000 per sprint. This is twice as much as before: in 2022 and 2021, teams were allowed to spend an extra $150,000 each. However, Formula 1 only held half as many sprint races in 2022 and 2021.

Until 2022, Formula 1 teams could also claim $100,000 per car and sprint for damages incurred during the sprint if the car did not finish the sprint. This additional rule was removed for 2023: accident damages are now included in the increased “sprint budget”.

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