Ahead of the highly anticipated Austrian Grand Prix, F1 has once again made modifications to its Sprint regulations, aiming to address the challenges encountered in Azerbaijan.
In preparation for the Baku race, a set of fresh rules was implemented, effectively segregating Saturday’s activities from the Grand Prix itself. As part of the changes, the traditional FP2 session was replaced by an exhilarating qualifying Shootout.
During this gripping Shootout, which played a crucial role in determining the starting grid for the Sprint, drivers were required to utilize new Medium tires in SQ1 and SQ2. The intensity heightened in the final stage as drivers switched to new Soft tires, setting the stage for an electrifying race weekend.
However, teams were not under any obligation to preserve a set of fresh Soft tires exclusively for SQ3. Instead, they had the freedom to utilize their allocated Soft tires during the sole practice session and the primary qualifying hour on Friday.
This flexibility was exercised by McLaren’s talented driver Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s promising rookie Yuki Tsunoda. While Norris successfully secured a spot in SQ3, Tsunoda narrowly missed out.
If both drivers had advanced to the final stage of the Shootout, an exciting provision in the regulations permitted the use of Intermediate tires, granting them the opportunity to start from the ninth position instead of the tenth.
Nevertheless, recent revisions to the regulations have brought about a significant change. Now, in the latest amendment, any set of Soft tires can be employed during SQ3, enhancing the strategic possibilities and adding an extra layer of excitement to this critical qualifying session.
FIA’s Race Director Niels Wittich’s comprehensive event notes stated:”In order to avoid the acknowledged unintended consequence whereby in certain situations at Sprint events it becomes attractive to run Intermediate tyres on a dry track, the following amendment to Article 30.5.h of the Formula 1 sporting regulations is made.
“Consultation has occurred with the commercial rights holder, stewards and teams. The agreement of the FIA, the commercial rights holder and nine competitors has been obtained in accordance with Article 1.4.
“Accordingly, my decision is that Article 30.5 h) iv) be modified to read as follows – Article 30.5h iv revised wording:
“In the period SQ3 of the Sprint Shootout, up to one set of dry-weather tyres may be used, and this must only be a set of the Soft specification.”