Motor racing-'Ludicrous' to stage sprint race in Baku: Red Bull's Horner

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 31, 2023 Red Bull team principal Christian Horner during the press conference REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Holding a sprint race on a street circuit at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a "ludicrous" proposition which will cost Formula One teams when they "trash" their cars, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said.

Azerbaijan's Baku City circuit will host the first of Formula One's six sprint races this season at the end of April, with the others to be held in Austria, at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps, Qatar, Austin and Brazil's Interlagos.

"The reality is it's absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first sprint race of the year in a street race like Azerbaijan," Horner told reporters at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.

"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.

"From a cost cap perspective, all you can do is trash your car. And it costs a lot of money around there.

"So you know one race is enough in Baku. The fact that we've got two, there could be, well, some action there."

Other team bosses echoed Horner's concerns.

"As Christian said, anytime we go to a street circuit - Baku creates pretty exciting races, some pretty big crash damage bills," said McLaren chief Zak Brown.

"(It's) the same for everyone and it is what it is.

"It'll be very exciting for the for the fans, and hopefully, all the cars will come back the way they started."

Aston Martin boss Mike Krack said there was "some nervousness" about it.

"But it's the same for everybody. So we try to keep the cars in one piece as long as we can," he added.

The sprint format involves qualifying on Friday for a 100km race on Saturday - with points awarded to the top eight - that sets the grid for the main grand prix on Sunday.

Formula One is considering changes for the future, including turning Saturday into a standalone race.

"Hopefully, we can tidy up the format for these sprint races coming up, that they're a bit more dynamic," added Horner.

Three sprint weekends were scheduled in 2022, with the first held at Imola in Italy and the other two in Austria and Brazil.

Red Bull's world champion Max Verstappen won the first two sprint races but has said he is no fan of them.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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