China and Miami are the new hosts of sprint races in 2024 alongside Austria, Austin, Sao Paulo, and Qatar. While the destinations have been finalised, the format itself hasn’t thanks to basically everyone involved in favour of tweaking it.
Currently, the sprint weekends see qualifying for the Grand Prix on Friday, locking the teams into their set-ups after just one practice session. The Saturday is then entirely dedicated to the sprint including the sprint shootout and race.
The problem with the current format is that it is too similar to Sunday’s race and Friday’s qualifying and it tends to spoil the results of various sessions. Viewers know who will be quick in the sprint shootout thanks to Friday’s qualifying, then viewers know who will be quick on Sunday thanks to the sprint race on Saturday.
F1 bosses are very happy with the sprint weekend’s ability to drive up interest in the weekend as a whole. They point to Nielsen research as evidence which suggest that Baku and Austin’s sprint races boosted viewership for qualifying by 83 and 139 percent respectively.
While that looks like definitive proof, it’s important to note that those numbers are compared to average viewership for a second practice session, a necessary but not popular segment of the weekend.
The Sporting Advisory Committee is planning on changing the format with one idea said to have the shootout on Friday and the sprint race on Saturday before qualifying proper. Reverse grids, or at least partial reverse grids, are also rumoured to appear.
“I am delighted to announce six exciting venues for next season’s F1 Sprint events, including two new hosts China and Miami, both of which will be fantastic additions and provide great racing for all our fans at the race and watching at home,” president and CEO of F1 Stefano Domenicali said.
“Since its creation in 2021, the Sprint has been consistent in delivering increased audiences on TV, more on track entertainment for the fans at events and increased fan engagement on social and digital platforms, and we are looking forward to the exciting events next year.”