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Formula 1

Part-reversed grids possible for F1 sprints, 2024 venues named

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Reversing part of the grid for Formula 1’s sprint races is still under discussion for the six events that will be held next year.

F1 has confirmed that the six sprint venues in 2024 will be China, Miami, Austria, Austin, Brazil and Qatar.

There are set to be changes to how the sprint weekends unfold, although the extent of that is still to be established.

"We must continuously develop and adapt to ensure we are doing what is best for the sport, and as such we are working with FOM and the teams to define the future direction of the Sprint format," said FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in the announcement.

As previously reported, the intention is to move away from the weekend format introduced this season which placed qualifying for the grand prix on Friday, qualifying for the sprint race and the sprint itself on Saturday, and the grand prix on Sunday.

What is set to happen in 2024 is that qualifying for the sprint will move to Friday, so the traditional ‘practice day’ still includes a more competitive session, with the sprint race becoming Saturday’s first on-track action before qualifying for the grand prix takes place later in the day.

The idea, which had the overall support of teams and is set to be formally proposed to the F1 Commission for approval in January, intends to improve the flow of the weekend.

It could yet be augmented by further changes including a reversed-grid element, which is one of two directions F1 could go in.

Partially reversing the order from sprint qualifying to set the grid for the sprint would be a massive move for F1 even if it is only for the sprint rather than the grand prix.

There have long been concerns that using a qualifying session to establish the reversed grid would lead to teams either deliberately not trying at all, or gaming the session in another way, to get a better grid position.

Discussions are ongoing about the best way to partially reverse the grid for the sprint, to avoid anything inadvertently problematic, and the most logical outcome at this stage would appear to be a tweak to the way points are awarded.

For instance, allocating points to the quickest drivers in sprint qualifying and only reversing part of the grid would incentivise teams to make a real effort because there would be a tangible reward for doing well, and there would still be a realistic chance of recovering well in the sprint race if only a certain number of positions would be reversed.

F1, Brazilian GP

While there would still be a question mark over how incentivised the slower teams would be, this format would offer the chance of sneaking into the positions that get reversed. Or if a team had a Haas-like problem in 2023 of having a good qualifying car but weak race car, it may present the opportunity to score qualifying points even if the race would inevitably end up more challenging.

The alternative is for F1 to avoid a radical change and keep the format largely the same except for re-ordering the sessions and changing the parc ferme restrictions, most likely re-opening certain set-up elements for qualifying and the grand prix.

Whatever happens, it appears F1 is keen to keep the number of sprint events to six for now, and avoid making further format changes beyond 2024.

This will be the third significant change to the sprint since its introduction in 2021 and F1 wants more consistency so it can evaluate how well received the format is year on year without other variables influencing the analysis.

2024 F1 calendar with sprints

March 2: Bahrain
March 9: Saudi
March 24: Australia
April 7: Japan
April 21: China (sprint weekend)
May 5: Miami (sprint weekend)
May 19: Imola
May 26: Monaco
June 9: Canada
June 23: Spain
June 30: Austria (sprint weekend)
July 7: Britain
July 21: Hungary
July 28: Belgium
August 25: Netherlands
September 1: Italy
September 15: Azerbaijan
September 22: Singapore
October 20: USA (sprint weekend)
October 27: Mexico
November 3: Brazil (sprint weekend)
November 23: Vegas
December 1: Qatar (sprint weekend)
December 8: Abu Dhabi

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