What is a sprint race in F1 and how does qualifying shootout work?

The sprint format continues in Formula 1 this weekend as the Miami Grand Prix hosts the second sprint weekend of the 2024 season.

The sprint was first introduced in 2021 at Silverstone as a way of making more sessions over the course of the weekend competitive, with the target of driving interest in F1. In 2021 and 2022, there were three sprints a year.

2023 saw a new format. The number of sprint races were doubled to six, while Saturday was designed ‘sprint day’ - with a new “sprint shootout” qualifying session determining the grid for the sprint race. In addition, the result of the sprint race had no baring on the grand prix on Sunday.

However, the format has been tweaked again in 2024 and we will see it in action for the second time this weekend at the Miami International Autodrome.

How does the sprint race work?

The F1 Commission and the FIA have approved another modification to the sprint format this year.

The new order of play sees the ‘sprint qualifying’ take place on Friday afternoon instead of a second practice session, with traditional qualifying in its usual spot on Saturday afternoon.

It means there will be just one practice session over the course of the weekend, while Saturday is no longer designated as a ‘sprint day’.

The result of the Saturday morning sprint – a 100km dash, roughly a third of the distance of the grand prix – will not impact the grid for Sunday Points will be awarded to the top-eight, as was the case in 2023.

The sprint race result will not have any impact on the grand prix qualifying on Saturday nor the grand prix on Sunday.

Sprint qualifying will follow the same Q1-Q2-Q3 format but the session times will be shorter than traditional qualifying: SQ1 (medium tyres) will be 12 minutes, SQ2 (medium tyres) will be 10 minutes and SQ3 (soft tyres) will be eight minutes.

There will be six sprint weekends in the 24-race 2024 F1 season (Getty Images)
There will be six sprint weekends in the 24-race 2024 F1 season (Getty Images)

NEW SPRINT WEEKEND FORMAT

Friday: Free Practice 1; sprint qualifying (for Saturday’s sprint race)

Saturday: Sprint race (Top-eight receive points, finish order has no impact on grand prix grid); Grand Prix qualifying

Sunday: Grand Prix

How many points are on offer in the sprint race?

P1 - Eight points

P2 - Seven points

P3 - Six points

P4 - Five points

P5 - four points

P6 - three points

P7 - two points

P8 - one point

Where will the sprint races take place this season?

There will be six sprint races this season:

1) ROUND 5 - CHINA

Shanghai International Circuit - 19-21 April

Sprint qualifying pole: Lando Norris

Sprint race winner: Max Verstappen

2) ROUND 6 - MIAMI

Miami International Autodrome - 3-5 May

Sprint qualifying pole: Max Verstappen

3) ROUND 11 - AUSTRIA

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg - 28-30 June

4) ROUND 19 - USA

Circuit of the Americas - 18-20 October

5) ROUND 21 - BRAZIL

Interlagos Circuit - 1-3 November

6) ROUND 23 - QATAR

Lusail International Circuit - 29 November - 1 December