What is the Formula 1 sprint format for 2024?

The Red Bull of Max Verstappen lined up with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won the first sprint race of the 2024 season at the Chinese Grand Prix, before triumphing again in Miami [Getty Images]

Formula 1 has tweaked the format to the sprint events for the 2024 season.

Qualifying for the shorter sprint race is now held on Friday instead of Saturday, following the only practice session of the weekend.

The 100km sprint will then take place as the first track action on Saturday, before main qualifying for the grand prix in its regular slot later in the day.

Sunday's race remains unchanged.

China hosted the first sprint of the year in April and Miami the second in May. After Austria this weekend, there will also be sprints in Austin, Brazil and Qatar towards the end of the season.

Why has the sprint format changed again?

The schedule for sprint weekends for this season has been refreshed again in an attempt to create a better spectacle.

In February, teams voted to keep the same sessions, but the order in which they take place has been rejigged.

Last year, Saturday became a standalone sprint day, independent of the main grand prix, with a 'sprint shootout' added to determine who started on pole for the 100km race later that day. Qualifying for Sunday's race was held on Friday, after one hour of practice.

The previous format for sprint weekends, which were introduced in 2021, had the Friday qualifying session setting the grid for the sprint and the result of the sprint establishing the grid for the main grand prix.

That meant drivers were reluctant to take chances in the sprint because any errors or accidents would disproportionately harm their chances in the grand prix.

How does the F1 sprint race work?

The sprint shootout has three sessions - like normal qualifying - with the slowest five cars eliminated at the end of the first two. These sessions last just 12, 10 and eight minutes, respectively. The three sessions in a standard qualifying run for 18, 15 and 12 minutes.

In the sprint race, the top eight finishers score points, from eight for first place down to one for eighth.