Formula One confirmed six circuits will host a Sprint Race during the 2023 season. A ranking from most to least exciting.
Since its introduction to Formula 1 in July of 2021 at Silverstone, Sprint Races are building their identity in the sport. Three Sprint Races were held in 2021 and 2022, with 2023 taking it up a notch with six races. The six Sprint Races will take place in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States (COTA), and Brazil. Since their introduction, Sprint Races seem to be hit-and-miss. They can either have an unexpected result heading into the actual Grand Prix, or they can become quite a snoozefest. The addition of the Sprint Race brings something new to the table to keep fans more engaged throughout the F1 weekend. So which of the six circuits in 2023 might bring the most excitement?
1) Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Interlagos
Without a doubt, Interlagos stands clear as the best Sprint circuit for the 2023 season. The previous two Sprints held in Brazil have turned out to be instant classics. In 2021, Lewis Hamilton was the star with his sensational drive from dead last to fifth. During the race, the Brazilian crowd was given an incredible battle between Hamilton and Max Verstappen while both competed for the title. 2022 also brought chaos as George Russell claimed both the Sprint Race and Grand Prix. The circuit provides fans with everything in any given part of the track. Countless amounts of overtakes heading into Turn 1 and Turn 4. Interlagos has created many moments, and the addition of the Sprint Race will only add more. F1 should permanently keep the event in Brazil as it has not failed to exceed expectations.
2) Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Ring
Like Interlagos, the Red Bull Ring will host another Sprint Race for the 2023 season. It held its first during the 2022 season. The ten-turn track is one of the shortest and quickest tracks on the F1 calendar. Max Verstappen took control of the Sprint Race earlier in the year, but Charles Leclerc came out on top to win the Grand Prix. The Red Bull Ring recently has had strong races that have rightfully deserved to host once again. The three DRS zones provide plenty of overtakes and close battles among the drivers. While the circuit doesn’t quite have the same level of intensity as Interlagos, it holds a strong reputation as a fan-favorite track.
3) Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps
Coming in the third spot is Belgium’s circuit, Spa-Francorchamps. This will be the first time Spa will include the Sprint Race during the race weekend as the series returns from the summer break. The 4.3 mile-long track has an average lap time of nearly 1:47, and that might raise some questions. How many laps will the Sprint Race be? Can a long-distance circuit provide excitement in a short amount of time? Spa’s iconic Eau Rouge and long straights provide intense battles that allow teams to show their cars’ true power. It doesn’t rank higher than Austria or Brazil since those tracks have each already shown their value before. It will bring a new twist by having a Sprint Race to kick off the second half of the season.
— Spa-Francorchamps (@circuitspa) December 7, 2022
4) Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku City Circuit
Just missing out on the top three is Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit, so far the first and only street circuit to have a Sprint Race. Azerbaijan will host the first Sprint of the 2023 season. The Baku City Circuit is 3.7 miles long with a mixture of sharp turns, long straights, and the tight castle section. Since the first Grand Prix there back in 2016, Baku has had a good run of races with no repeat race winner. With the high speeds this track possesses, there is always the possibility of a safety car making an appearance either during the race or even the Sprint. There will be pressure on Baku to create an exciting Sprint Race because if this goes well, F1 could include more at street circuits in the future.
5) United States Grand Prix, Circuit of The Americas
Coming in the fifth spot is the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas for the United States Grand Prix. This is the first time a Sprint Race will be held in the United States. Austin makes the most sense since COTA had been the sole U.S. race until F1 introduced Miami in ’22 and Las Vegas in ’23. COTA over the years has had good races and some that have been underwhelming. The most recent Grand Prix in Austin did deliver a great race, and it can build on it with an exciting Sprint Race to create chaos. F1 hopes that the fans in the United States will be able to appreciate the Sprint as the popularity of the sport continues to increase.
As one of only six F1 Sprint races on the 2023 calendar, the Formula 1 #USGP is shaping up to be a truly unforgettable experience. 🇺🇸
— Circuit of The Americas (@COTA) December 15, 2022
6) Qatar Grand Prix, Lusail Circuit
In the final spot, Qatar’s Lusail Circuit will debut its first Sprint Race during the 2023 season. The newest addition to the F1 calendar will return in 2023, after missing out on 2022 due to Qatar focusing on the FIFA World Cup. The circuit’s first official F1 Grand Prix was in 2021, and the race did not produce a race to remember as Lewis Hamilton took home the victory in dominating fashion. The Lusail Circuit focuses on high speeds and various switchbacks leading into more straights. Although the first race did not provide much for fans, the circuit holds loads of potential. The judgment of whether or not a Sprint Race is entertaining in Qatar will come as soon as it concludes.