Motor racing’s Formula 1 (F1) series has confirmed the six venues that will host sprint events during the 2023 season after successfully staging three events each in 2021 and 2022.
They will be held in Baku in Azerbaijan (April 29), Spielberg in Austria (June July 1), Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium (July 29), Losail in Qatar (October 7), Austin in the US (October 21), and Interlagos in Brazil (November 4).
While it will be Interlagos’ third time hosting a race and the second time for the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg after this year, four tracks will stage a sprint race for the first time – Baku, Spa-Francorchamps, Losail, and Austin.
Sprints were held at the UK’s Silverstone, Italy’s Monza, and Interlagos in 2021. In 2022, Interlagos was joined as host by Italy’s Imola and the Red Bull Ring.
It was announced in September the number of sprint races next year would double, with the format having proved popular with fans and drivers since its introduction in 2021.
Sprints see the schedule of the overall grand prix weekends change, with qualifying shifted to Friday afternoon after the first practice instead of taking place on Saturday. The second practice then takes place on Saturday before the sprint race, which sets the grid for Sunday’s main race.
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F1 president Stefano Domenicali said: “We have seen a hugely positive reaction to the F1 Sprint events during the first two years of its running, and we can’t wait to bring even more action to fans with six events next year, including our first F1 Sprint in Austin.
“The introduction of the F1 Sprint has created a race weekend that includes three days of competitive racing action and brings more entertainment to fans of the sport as well as additional value for key stakeholders including teams, broadcasters, partners, and host venues.”
F1 said there will be no changes to the format of the sprint from 2022, which will see points awarded to the top eight and the result determining the grand prix grid.
Tweaks were made for the 2022 sprints, including the designation of pole position to whoever topped Friday’s qualifying session after a backlash and an increase in points on offer to encourage drivers to push more.
The series said discussions were ongoing about what could be changed for future calendars, including potentially making them standalone events that do not impact the starting grid for Sunday’s race.
Meanwhile, F1 has said it is looking to introduce a simplified calendar that will see races split into regions as it seeks to reduce travel-based emissions.
In recent seasons, those working in the sport have questioned the logistics of the calendar after some races in different continents were placed one week apart. The race in Miami, US, is held immediately after Azerbaijan, while Canada is set between Spain and Austria.
Japan is followed by Qatar and then the US Grand Prix, while at the end of the season, the Last Vegas Grand Prix is followed by the final race in Abu Dhabi.
The series announced the new target within a progress report on its sustainability and diversity and inclusion drive, with a target to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2030.
The report confirmed that “planning for a future calendar regionalization was underway,” with the series negotiating with promoters to group races in similar locations together.
The report cataloged F1’s actions including introducing remote broadcasting operations, redesigning freight containers to enable the use of more efficient airplanes, and using 100% renewable energy in the sports offices.
F1 said was on course to meet its target of using 100% carbon-neutral, sustainable fuel by 2026 when the new engine regulations are applied. This year, cars are using a fuel with a 10% sustainable ethanol element.
Ellen Jones, the head of sustainability at F1, said: “It’s fantastic to see the progress that’s been already.
“The work that’s going on behind the scenes to bring this strategy to life is tireless and we are confident that we are building strong foundations for the future of our business and sport.”
Elsewhere, it has been reported the Portuguese Grand Prix is seeking to take China’s place on the 2023 F1 calendar after the series opted to call off the Shanghai race due to the country’s strict zero-Covid policy.
The cancelation of the Chinese Grand Prix has left a one-month gap between the rounds in Australia and Azerbaijan, and, according to Portuguese new station SIC Noticias, organizers are negotiating a €25 million ($26 million) fee to bring the series back to the country.
The series raced at Portugal’s Portimao circuit in 2020 and 2021 during their Covid-19-affected campaigns but was dropped for the 2022 calendar. Both races were won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.