F1’s New Sprint Format is a Failure, but the Midfield can Save it

F1’s New Sprint Format is a Failure, but the Midfield can Save it

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix featured the first sprint race of the 2023 Formula 1 season and it was a resounding flop.

The 17 lap race, saw a safety car and more drama than the main event, but it was all for not as the event was practically meaningless. Drivers were not pushing their equipment and teams didn’t learn anything for the main event.

Points were only handed out to the expected top 4 teams, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin because points only go 1st-8th, instead of 1st-10th.

While there are many issues surrounding the new sprint format, the main problem being it exacerbates F1’s main issue at the moment, parity.

As of writing this, Red Bull owns F1. Their DRS system and drivers allow for an advantage like nothing I’ve ever seen in a racing series, they could win every race by 30 seconds if they wanted to.

Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Mercedes are just good enough to outclass the midfield teams, and dominate the top 8 spots on the grid. So if 1st-8th all but decided, why are those positions the ones we watch fight for points for a short time?

The midfield of Williams, Alpine, HAAS, Alpha Tauri, and McLaren are all fairly close together and provide good racing almost every week and the Grand Prix format allows these teams to battle for points, making it rarity for a consistent 9th and 10th place finisher.

To fix the sprint format, it needs to embrace the midfield and all it’s quirks. F1 should have the sprint be reversed from the main qualifying session and let the midfield get a chance at points. Keep the 1st-8th point structure and the low amount of points.

Chances are in 15-20 laps, the elite will rise to the top and the Red Bulls and Mercedes of the world will still end up with majority of the points.

The low amount of points handed out will ensure points finishes in the Grand Prix weekend don’t lose value, but still bring some engaging fights to the sprint.

Right now, the sprint has no reason to exist. It’s a glorified practice session with points handed out. Let’s make those points means something, but the hungriest at the front and make the big dogs fight for their points.
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