5th December 2023 – (Shanghai) The United States will play host to two of the six Formula One sprint races scheduled for next year. Miami will join Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in embracing the sprint format, which is likely to undergo further changes before the start of the season.
Joining the roster of sprint hosts for the first time are Miami and China’s Shanghai circuit, the latter returning for the first time since the pre-pandemic year of 2019. In addition, Austin, Austria, Brazil, and Qatar, which all hosted sprints this season, will continue to do so in 2024, according to a statement released by Formula One on Tuesday.
The first sprint of the season will take place in China in April, followed by Miami in May, Austria in June, Austin in October, Brazil in November, and Qatar in November/December.
In a historic moment, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured his third title during the sprint race in Qatar last October. This marked the first time since the 1980s that a championship had been won on a Saturday instead of on a Sunday.
Brazil’s Interlagos in Sao Paulo is the sole circuit to have hosted a sprint since the format’s introduction at three rounds in 2021, when it replaced the traditional qualifying for the main grand prix.
The sprint format is expected to undergo changes next season. The Formula One Commission is set to vote in January on final proposals, which may include moving sprint qualifying back to Friday from Saturday. The 100km race would then be held on the following day, followed by a qualifying session for the main Sunday grand prix.
This year, sprint qualifying and the race were both held on Saturday as a standalone one-day event, with grand prix qualifying taking place on Friday.
Other potential format tweaks being discussed include reversing part of the starting grid for the sprint race.
While Formula One’s calendar is expanding to a record 24 races next year, the number of sprints is unlikely to exceed six in the near future. The sport will closely monitor viewing figures and engagement before making any further decisions.
According to Formula One’s data, all the sprints this season attracted larger audiences. The U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, for example, saw a 6 per cent increase in viewership over the three days compared to the standard format in 2022. The broadcast audience for the sprint race on Saturday was 31 per cent higher than regular qualifying the previous year, and Friday’s qualifying audience was 139 per cent higher than that of the second practice session in 2022.