Formula 1 to hold two separate qualifying sessions at 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has implemented a plan to make race weekends more entertaining.

Following a meeting between teams, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s plan to liven up race weekends has been given the green light, with teams set for two qualifying sessions in Baku.

The new format will see Saturday’s FP2 session replaced by a qualifying session for the Sprint race, while the current Sprint qualifying session on Friday will be used to determine the places on the grid for the Grand Prix.

The removal of the FP2 session on Saturday morning comes after Domenicali revealed that he supports the cancellation of all free practice sessions, believing that “the public doesn’t like” them.

“Of course the drivers need time to practice,” Domenicali told Sky Deutschland. 

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“But the people in the stands come to see power and performance.  

“The more often you give the teams and drivers the chance to show who they are, the better the show is. 

“Together with the drivers and teams we are thinking about what could be the best plan for that,” the F1 CEO added.  

The teams have reached an agreement on the new format ahead of the first Sprint race of the season, altering schedules and strategies before round 4. 

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Haas team principal Gunther Steiner has been publicly supportive of the change, praising Domenicali’s “vision.”

“Stefano put a little bit more of his vision out there for the future because that is what he has to do for FOM – have a vision, where are we going?” Steiner said.

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner has been more cautious of holding a new sprint race around the street circuit in Baku, given its reputation for being a tough track.

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“The reality is it’s absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first Sprint race of the year in a street race like Azerbaijan, but I think from a spectacle point of view, from a fan point of view, it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting Sprint races of the year,” Horner said.

“From a cost gap perspective, all you can do is trash your car and it costs a lot of money around there. So one race is enough in Baku. The fact that we’ve got two… yeah, there could well be some action there. But that’s part of the challenge and it’s part of the task that we’ve got. 

“Hopefully we can tidy up the format for the Sprint races coming up, they are a bit more dynamic. I know that the sporting director has been working hard on that and hopefully we can get that finalised,” he added.