Teams have given a mandate to the FIA to press ahead with finalising regulatory details ahead of April’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Although the meeting was not designed to result in a formal vote, the aim was for teams to approve the rules outlined for sprint weekends. These rules will be checked and ratified by team sporting directors ahead of the race weekend.
After several formats were considered, including the possibility of a one-lap qualifying format for sprints, it has now been confirmed that this idea will be abandoned. Complications arising from timing software compatibility, as well as deciding which day qualifying should take place on, were also discussed. It has now been agreed that Saturday will be an independent event with normal race qualifying taking place on Friday after FP1.
There is a proposed plan to have a shorter sprint session over the course of the weekend, with the aim of reducing the number of power unit laps and minimising tyre usage. With a limited supply of tyres, obtaining sufficient quantities has remained a critical issue. Finalising parc ferme rules, enforcing technical penalties for power unit changes in the main race and applying sporting penalties incurred during the sprint to the sprint event make up additional points that need clarification.
Technical penalties, such as those incurred for power unit changes, will continue to apply to the main race at these events – as is already the case with sprint weekends. It is expected that the grid penalty a driver incurs for causing an incident during a sprint will take effect during the following day’s sprint rather than the main race.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has supported the standalone format for sprints if the details can be agreed upon. He stated that the current format cannot accommodate such an option due to engine mileage constraints and a shortage of Pirelli tyres. Exact timings for the three sessions during sprint qualifying are yet to be confirmed.