Formula 101: Sprint Races
3 days of racing. 2 concerts. All for 1 ticket. That’s what you can expect of the 2023 Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand Prix at COTA. This year’s event will also feature the first F1 Sprint race on American soil, as one of six sprint races in the 2023 Formula 1 season. Between COTA’s newly announced music line-up—The Killers on Friday and Queen + Adam Lambert on Saturday—and this added race, attendees will get more bang for their buck than ever before.
So, what is a sprint race? First introduced in 2021, F1 Sprint races bring an extra day of racing for fans as well as another opportunity to score valuable points for the drivers and constructors. A sprint race is a shorter race format, meaning drivers won’t compete for as many laps as the official Grand Prix. In an F1 Sprint, drivers race for 100km or just over 62 miles with no mandatory pit stops. The Grand Prix format requires races to be at least 305km or 190 miles and at least one pit stop, so this sprint race is truly an all-out dash to the finish. At COTA, the 2023 sprint on Saturday, October 21, will be 19 laps or 105km (about 65.24 mi).
Free Practice 1 or FP1 kicks off the U.S. Grand Prix weekend on Friday, October 20, as the only practice session. It’s followed by Qualifying, which is moved from Saturday to Friday for sprint weekends. This Friday Qualifying session, however, will continue to determine the grid for Sunday’s GP.
Saturday, the second day of Grand Prix weekend, is the biggest change. Prior to the 2023 Azerbaijan GP, a new session called the Sprint Shootout was added. This is a quick, secondary qualifying session specifically for the sprint which occurs later that day.
This year, sprint races will offer more points towards the drivers’ and constructors’ championship cup. First place in the sprint will receive 8 points with the number of points awarded decreasing by one for each position after. Only the top eight drivers will score. With double the number of sprint races this year, drivers and teams can pull in precious points to close the gap between their competitors.
The six 2023 F1 Sprints, in order of appearance, are the Azerbaijan GP, the Austrian GP, the Belgian GP, the Lusail GP, the United States GP (that’s COTA), and the Brazilian GP. With a weekend packed to the brim with racing, 2023 is a must see at Circuit of The Americas.