F1's Sprint format expansion plans hit an FIA money hurdle

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F1's Sprint format expansion plans hit an FIA money hurdle

Formula 1

F1's Sprint format expansion plans hit an FIA money hurdle

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A move to expand Formula 1’s Sprint schedule in 2023 has been held up by a disagreement between F1 and the FIA over money, RACER understands.

The topic of adding more Sprint races was raised during Tuesday’s meeting of the F1 Commission after teams had originally failed to agree on an increase to six this season due to cost cap demands. The FIA announced after the meeting that the teams and F1 are now aligned on doubling the number of Sprint races for next season, but that the governing body has welfare concerns that mean it will not yet sign off on an expansion.

“With the first of three Sprint events of the 2022 season popular with fans and stakeholders last weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Formula 1 and the teams were supportive of an extension to six Sprint events for the 2023 season, running with the same format as in 2022,” the FIA statement read.

“While supporting the principle of an increased number of Sprint events, the FIA is still evaluating the impact of this proposal on its trackside operations and personnel, and will provide its feedback to the Commission.”

Following that statement, multiple paddock sources have told RACER that the lack of a commitment from the FIA is due to new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem requesting more money from F1 for the operation of those events.

The Sprint race weekend schedule features the same number of track sessions as a regular race weekend, but having qualifying on a Friday means an earlier start to parc ferme. A number of team sources were surprised at the block and stated the impact on the FIA’s trackside operations was viewed as a front, with Ben Sulayem keen for F1 to increase its annual payment to the FIA. One senior team member went as far as to describe it as a “cash grab”.

The governing body insists the Sprint events lead to a dramatic increase in scrutineering and parc ferme requests after the Saturday race, giving its small team of officials a much bigger workload akin to two grands prix on consecutive days. As such, it claims it wants to ensure it has the resource in place to effectively police the format.

Sprint weekends have been a commercial success for F1, delivering an increase in viewership due to there being three days featuring competitive sessions, as well as sponsorship of the events sold. However it is unclear if that commercial benefit has been felt by the FIA.

Where there was agreement on Tuesday related to helmet cameras – which will become mandatory for all drivers from 2023 onwards – and tire usage, with a trial at two events next year to reduce the number of sets for each driver from 13 to 11 in order to assess the impact on track running, with the intention to promote more sustainable tire use.

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