Toto Wolff is expecting the new Sprint weekend format to pose an “interesting challenge” for Mercedes at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Sprint will make the first of six appearances in 2023 during the Baku event, with a new Sprint Shootout also being introduced in place of Free Practice 2. This new session will set the grid for the Sprint, while Friday’s traditional qualifying determines the order for Sunday’s main race, and Wolff hopes that the structure can provide additional excitement for the fans. Wolff on new Sprint format “After just under a month with no F1 action, everyone’s eager to be back out on track,” Wolff explained. “Thankfully we’ve got plenty of that coming up. It’s a busy window in the calendar with five races in six weekends, starting with Azerbaijan. “The racing in Baku is always dramatic and entertaining. It’s a challenging track with the walls close, so there’s no room for error. “We also have our first F1 Sprint weekend of the season with a tweaked format. “It’s an interesting challenge for us to tackle, with only a single practice session to be ready for two qualifying sessions and races spread across Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “Hopefully this will mean more excitement and action for fans to enjoy.” Mercedes’ car will ‘continue to evolve’ Mercedes currently sit third in the Constructors’ standings after a difficult start to the season, though Wolff acknowledges that the squad have taken positives from signs of progress seen last time out in Australia. “We’ve had a few weeks off from racing but both factories have been hard at work,” the team boss said. “We’ve tried to maximise this period, bringing planned development to the car and extracting as much as possible from our learnings so far. “Australia showed that we are making progress, although we need to be cautious about reading too much into a single result. “But the signs in Melbourne were still encouraging and that has been a good motivator for the whole team heading into this gap in the calendar.” With further development planned for the W14, Wolff is keen to see the results but admits that they may not happen instantly. “Over the next races, we want to keep on making small steps forward,” he added. “The car will continue to evolve in the coming weeks, as we steadily bring performance and upgrades to the track. We’re excited to see their impact, but we know there is no magic bullet.”

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