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Two qualifying sessions suggested for Azerbaijan GP weekend shake-up

With Formula 1 looking to weigh up all options for tweaking the current race formats, the idea running two qualifying sessions during the Azerbaijan GP Sprint weekend has been suggested.

The FIA and Formula 1 are discussing potential changes to the Sprint race format for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with two qualifying sessions being suggested. The race in Baku, which is the next race after this weekend's event in Melbourne, is currently scheduled to follow the existing Sprint race weekend format. After one free practice session, teams participate in one qualifying session on the Friday, with a second practice session taking place on Saturday morning. The Sprint occurs on Saturday afternoon, the result of which forms the grid for the grand prix on Sunday. However, amid wider conversations about the overall weekend format, RacingNews365 understands that discussions will be taking place about the Baku schedule, but discussions are at a preliminary stage.

Speaking during the Australian GP weekend, Red Bull Team Principal was critical of the cost risks associated with having two races at a street track, and hoped the format could be "tidied up". "The reality is it’s absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first Sprint race of the year in a street race like Azerbaijan, but I think from a spectacle point of view, from a fan point of view, it's probably going to be one of the most exciting Sprint races of the year," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com . "From a cost gap perspective, all you can do is trash your car and it costs a lot of money around there. So one race is enough in Baku. The fact that we’ve got two... yeah, there could well be some action there. But that's part of the challenge and it's part of the task that we've got. "Hopefully we can tidy up the format for the Sprint races coming up, they are a bit more dynamic. I know that the sporting director has been working hard on that and hopefully we can get that finalised."

Steiner: Two qualifying sessions on the cards

When Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner was asked about the wider F1 race weekend schedule, he indicated that conversations about two qualifying sessions - one for each race - had occurred, which could serve as a test bed for wider format changes. "In Baku, we are talking about having a second qualifying at the moment. We don't know how we'll do it or if we're doing it," said Steiner. "I think once we have done that, instead of FP2 on a Sprint event on Saturday morning, we would do a qualifying and then we are in a situation to evaluate whether one practice session is enough to get out what we want, and go from there and then decide what is next in making the free practice session more interesting for the spectator, because that is what we need to make it." "We need to take it step-by-step, get over this hurdle of how we can do a second qualifier on the weekend in the Sprint events, and then maybe go the next step."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying