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Formula 1: Spa-Francorchamps to host one of six sprint races in 2023
Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps racing circuit has been named as one of six tracks that will host sprint races during the 2023 season.
The list was agreed after analysis of which tracks would be best suited for the popular sprint events, as well as discussions surrounding commercial terms with race organisers.
For 2023, the number of sprint events is doubling because of the increase in revenue and television audiences that they attract. "We have seen the positive reactions to the sprint races in the first two seasons," said boss Stefano Domenicali.
With tracks selected for their speed and their opportunities to overtake, it was perhaps not a surprise that Belgium’s historic Ardennes circuit made the cut. It’s fast, has long straights and sweeping corners, including the mythical downhill Eau Rouge U-turn into Raidillon hill. The tricky bend requires supreme control and expertise from drivers.
The format of the six events largely remains the same as the sprint weekends in 2022. The races replace the traditional qualifications, determine the order on the starting grid for the grand prix on Sunday and award points in the championship.
A short race takes place on Saturday, with points for the first eight finishers, and defines the grid for Sunday. The grid for the sprint is set by a standard qualifying race, moved to Friday afternoon from its usual Saturday slot.
Belgium’s F1 is scheduled to take place from 28 to 30 July before the season’s traditional summer break. Changes to the racing calendar mean that it has moved from its usual date at the end of August.
The other countries hosting the sprints are Azerbaijan, Austria, Qatar, the US and Brazil. The 2023 season kicks off on 5 March with the Bahrain Grand Prix 5 in Sakhir.
Photo: Spa-Francorchamps 2022 F1 © Belga/Virginie Lefour