F1: Azerbaijan Grand Prix – UK start time, how to watch, Sprint race guide

Following its unusual spring break, F1 comes blasting back into the sporting sphere around the streets of Baku. Here is the start time, plus other details, for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

A few weeks ago, the paddock had been battling down in Australia. Max Verstappen took the win after a chaotic race, with the resurgent Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in second. Fernando Alonso claimed his third consecutive podium for Aston Martin with another P3 finish.

Baku offers a much different challenge to the drivers than Albert Park, though. The unbelievably long start-finish line, as well as the typically street circuit narrow sections, makes the Azerbaijan GP a truly unique track.

Additionally, some teams will be arriving off the back of the extended break with upgrades for their cars. For example, both McLaren and Mercedes have promised technical adjustments to their respective chargers. Could this shake up the grid? We will have to wait and see.

But if the development race does not provide drama, the first sprint race of the season surely will. On Saturday, the field will take on a shorter race around Baku to determine the grid for Sunday’s GP.

Given that Baku is a magnet for collisions and drama, this could make for an unmissable Saturday race.

So, what time will all the Azerbaijan Grand Prix action start?

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: UK start time

The cars will first hit the streets on Friday for Free Practice (FP) 1. This makes for some morning viewing in the UK, as it starts at 10:30am. Following this, qualifying for the Sprint race will be at 2pm, also on Friday 28 April.

Moving on to Saturday now, where everyone will likely begin the day by participating in FP2. This starts at 10:30am UK time once more. The Sprint race then comes later on the same day (29 April), with lights out at 2:30pm.

There is just one session on Sunday 30 April – the Grand Prix. This year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix will start at 12:00pm UK time, after which the field will take on 51 laps.

Now you know when to watch, here is the how.

How to watch the Azerbaijan GP in the UK

Sky Sports is the broadcaster of Formula 1 racing in Great Britain. As a result, viewers require a Sky Sports subscription in order to watch the race live. Alternatively, NOW TV offer day passes or a monthly subscription, with which you can get the Sky Sports channels.

Sky’s coverage of FP1 begins at 10am on Friday 28 April, with qualifying build-up from 1pm. The entire weekend will be on both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports F1, their designated channel for Formula 1.

Saturday’s FP2 show starts at 10:15am, meanwhile, the sprint race coverage begins at 2pm. Finally, the pre-race build-up for the Grand Prix is available from 10:30am on Sky Sports Main Event & F1 ahead of the 12pm start.

What is a sprint race?

As mentioned earlier, Baku is hosting the first sprint race of the 2023 Formula 1 season. But what exactly is this?

Introduced to F1 in 2021, a sprint race is a shorter chase to the flag where championship points are on offer. They are typically 100km long, or around 30 minutes in duration. In Azerbaijan, this equates to 17 laps.

Points are awarded to the drivers that finish in first to eighth place. The winner gets eight points, with the value decreasing until the eighth receives a single point.

Sprints do not count as a full Grand Prix – although it does set the grid for the GP the next day.

But this could be set to change. Teams and F1 organisers have come to an agreement that Friday’s qualifying will determine the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix on a weekend involving a sprint. The sprint race’s grid would then come from another qualifying session that would replace Saturday’s free practice.

If F1 proceeds with this, it would mean that sprints have no impact on the grid of the Grand Prix.

For now, F1 is sticking with the old method in Azerbaijan: Friday – FP1 and sprint qualifying; Saturday – FP2 and sprint race; Sunday – Grand Prix, sprint race result sets the grid.

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The streets of Baku have always brought about controversy and chaos since its arrival on the calendar. Viewers will, therefore, hope for similar amounts of endless action throughout this weekend. We can’t wait for F1 to finally return to our screens.

Featured image credit: Getty