James Vowles reveals confusion over Azerbaijan GP sprint weekend

F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali is pushing for practice time to be reduced.

Williams team principal James Vowles has revealed that it’s yet to be confirmed which sprint format will be used at next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the Baku City Circuit set to host the first of six sprint races this season.

The Azerbaijan GP is usually chaotic without the addition of a sprint race, with Vowles openly admitting that a sprint race in Baku will likely “cause a little bit of mayhem”.

It’s certainly one of the more exciting weekends of the season for fans, with the high-speed street circuit usually boasting excellent racing, and plenty of collisions.

Having a sprint race in Azerbaijan has been criticised by some teams, with the likelihood being that it’ll be an expensive weekend for some members of the paddock.

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It’s expected that more incidents will be seen next weekend than normal in Baku, given that the drivers will be pushing harder for longer.

Under the current sprint format, FP1 and qualifying for the sprint race take place on Friday, FP2 and the sprint race take place on Saturday, with the traditional race on the Sunday.

However, under the proposed new sprint format, Friday will host FP1 and qualifying for the main race, Saturday will host another qualifying session for the sprint race and then the sprint race itself, whilst Sunday remains the same.

Despite the Grand Prix being just a week away, a decision is yet to be made on which sprint format will be used.

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Speaking in a video on Williams’ website, Vowles shared that discussions are still be held on whether the new sprint format will be introduced in Azerbaijan, or at the next sprint race in Austria.

“We have Baku coming up and again, I think a track that should suit the capability of our car,” Vowles said.

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“Whilst we sit here 10th in the championship with just a point to our name, it is not a fair reflection of the work that has gone into this car this year or the performance the car can have on track.

“It is going to be a Sprint race weekend, potentially with slight modifications to the rules we have had previously and that work is now ongoing in the background to understand how we should restructure the race weekend and what the implications of that will be on everyone.

“Irrespective of whether the rules change or not, a sprint race weekend at that tight, twisty track where you go through the castle section is going to cause a little bit of mayhem.”