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Ben Sulayem: The Sprint is good for F1

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Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA president has given his backing for the proposed Sprint Race weekend format to be trialed in Baku for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Formula 1 will feature six Sprint Races for its 2023 season, the first of which will be over the weekend of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix next week.

And while we have been accustomed to a certain format of an F1 weekend that features a Sprint, a new format is being proposed to be trialed in Baku of the green light is given by teams, Formula 1 management and of course the FIA.

The previous format saw one practice session held on Friday followed by qualifying for the Sprint Race on Saturday. Saturday action kicked off with another practice session followed by the Sprint Race as its outcome sets the grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

The new proposal will see all practice session scrapped but one on Friday, which will be followed by a qualifying session for the Grand Prix on Sunday, while Saturday will be reserved for the Sprint Race and its own qaualifying session.

While the teams seem to have agreed on the new format, the final approval is being awaited, and it seems the FIA is on board with this porposal.

The FIA President not resisting Sprint format changes

Asked by the Daily Mail about his opinion, FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem kept it short and simple; he said: “The sprint is good for the sport.”

That comes after Ben Sulayem infamously went to war with Formula 1 management over the addition of an extra team to the grid, launching the process to bring new teams in while supporting the Andretti-Cadillac bid to join F1, which was received a lukewarm response from teams and Formula 1.

The Emirati also caused controversy when he downplayed the $20-Billion price tag of F1, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund were reportedly willing to pay Liberty Media to buy the sport.

Liberty Media considered Ben Sulayem’s comments an interference in F1’s commercial side, something that is not allowed under the 100-year lease agreement between the FIA and F1 holding company. Liberty even sent a strongly worded legal letter to the FIA.

After that, the FIA announced Ben Sulayem will step back from day to day administration of F1, delegating the role to Nikolas Tombazis, FIA’s Single Seater Director, as part of what was described as a restructuring process within F1’s governing body.

Ben Sulayem’s recent comments to the Daily Mail are the first in a while now, as the 61-year-old has also been mourning the death of his son Saif who lost his life in a car crash earlier in March.