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Revamped F1 Sprint format and upgrades galore - what to expect at the Azerbaijan GP

Revamped F1 Sprint format and upgrades galore - what to expect at the Azerbaijan GP

F1 News

Revamped F1 Sprint format and upgrades galore - what to expect at the Azerbaijan GP

Revamped F1 Sprint format and upgrades galore - what to expect at the Azerbaijan GP

F1 finally returns after a three-week break, with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix looking highly promising for some grid shake-ups.

There is hope that after three dominant performances in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, Red Bull's ascendency could be stagnated as the teams behind them look to implement new upgrades to their 2023 vehicles.

Max Verstappen leads the field by 15 points, with his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in second place.

With the potential for more chaos thanks to the FIA's new sprint format, GPFans takes a look at what to expect from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

New Sprint format

With only one free practice session on Friday morning, the drivers will need to ace their setups for the qualifying in the afternoon. Friday's qualifying will be for the race on Sunday.

The Saturday in Baku will have no effect on Sunday's race, with the FIA introducing a "Sprint Shootout" which will decide the starting grid for Saturday's F1 Sprint.

The winner of the F1 Sprint will receive eight championship points with each subsequent driver getting one less point, leading down to one point for the eighth-place finisher.

Upgrades galore

Mercedes will be looking to rein in Red Bull

The bunched-up midfield battle will be an area to keep an eye on in Baku. With three weeks to tinker with their cars, teams like McLaren will be looking to make up for lost ground from their underwhelming start to the 2023 season.

Meanwhile, the big boys at the front of the pack, i.e. Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari, will be looking to somehow close the gap to the reigning constructors' champions, Red Bull.

French retaliation

Alpine suffered a frightening finish in Melbourne

After an extremely unlucky Australian Grand Prix where team-mates Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided right at the death of the race, the Frenchmen will be looking to bounce back into the points, especially after their 2022 rivals, McLaren leapfrogged them in the constructors' standings.

Ocon has hinted towards some upgrades and tweaks for the A523 and is quietly confident about Azerbaijan, acknowledging in the pre-race press conference that the French team tend to well on the streets of Baku.

Shortened DRS zone

Turn one will be even more thrilling thanks to a new adjustment to Baku's layout

In an effort to make overtaking more challenging over the course of the weekend, the FIA has announced a significant change to the DRS zone.

The zone, located on the start-finish straight, has been reduced by 100 meters to reduce the DRS effect, which should make passing less of a breeze than in previous years.

Charles chance to bounce back

Whilst he may not boast a great record in Baku, Leclerc will be looking to avoid an unfavorable achievement

Charles Leclerc will be looking to bounce back at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a difficult start to the season. The Monegasque driver has suffered two DNFs in the first three races, becoming the first Ferrari driver to do so since Felipe Massa in 2009.

The last time a Ferrari driver had three abandonments in the first four races of the year was Rubens Barrichello in 2002, with all three retirements occurring in the first three races of that season.

READ MORE: F1 Driver Salaries: How much do Hamilton, Verstappen and co earn?

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