Sprint not in F1's DNA, says Verstappen


Two-time world champion, Max Verstappen says that continued tinkering with the format would cause him to reconsider his future in F1.

With the Azerbaijan Grand Prix just four weeks away, F1 and the FIA have yet to finalise the precise format of the first Sprint event of the year.

Currently it is thought that FP1 will go ahead as usual with the afternoon's qualifying session deciding the grid order for Sunday's Grand Prix.

On Saturday morning another qualifying session would be held, which would decide the grid order for the subsequent Sprint.

So far, so good.

However, it is understood that the sport's powers-that-be, in their determination to add more spice, are considering changing the Sprint's qualifying format to a sort of time trial where each driver would be allowed one timed lap.

A day after Red Bull boss, Christian Horner claimed that it was ludicrous to hold a Sprint event on a street track, especially one with the reputation for incidents that Baku enjoys, Max Verstappen has taken things further.

Insisting that the Sprint is against the DNA of F1, the two-time world champion warns that if the tinkering with the format continues he will reconsider his future in the sport.

"I'm not a fan of it at all," he said of the Sprint. "But also, I think when we're going to do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes even more intense and we're already doing so many races. So I think that is not the right way to go at it.

"I understand, of course, they want to have basically every day exciting, but then I think maybe it's better to just reduce the weekend, only race on Saturday and Sunday and make those two days exciting because we're heading into seasons where you have at one point 24/25 races, because that's where we're going to head into, and if we then start adding even more stuff, it's not worth it for me anyway. I'm not enjoying that.

"For me, a Sprint race is all about surviving," he continued, "it's not about racing. For me, when you have a quick car, there's nothing to risk. I prefer to just keep my car alive and make sure that you have a good race car for Sunday.

"Even if you change the format, I don't find it's the DNA of Formula 1 to do these kinds of Sprint races. F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying and then having an amazing Sunday, good long race distances. That's the DNA of the sport and I don't understand or I don't know why we should change that because I think the action has been good.

"How you get even more action is about getting the cars closer, getting more teams able to fight for the win. And I think naturally the show will be great. If we have six, seven teams already fighting for a win, that will be insane. Then you really don't need to change anything."

"I don't know what the rule is exactly," said Lewis Hamilton, referring to the exact format Baku will take, "but I do think we constantly need to be evolving and assessing what we're doing.

"I think the changes with the Sprint races has been positive in some places," he added. "Baku, we couldn't do a one-lap qualifying because these tyres don't work after one lap, and especially if we've got no blankets, then we'll be doing more laps. So I don't know. But I'm open to changes, to continue to make it more inclusive and more engaging for the fans.

"I quite like the Friday of a Sprint weekend so far," he admitted. "I'd love to have more qualifying because that's always super fun. And I just think it should... Perhaps we can just apply just slightly small changes to different races, specific for those places where if a race where you can't overtake like Monaco, what else can we do there to make it more exciting. Yeah, that's about it."

"I think having the action on the Friday, arriving to the track, having action every single day, also for fans in the crowd, I think just watching cars circulating in practice, I don't think it's as exciting as when you have a qualifying session like this or a Sprint race," said the increasingly Mr Corporate, George Russell, clearly unaware that yesterday 110,000 fans poured through the Melbourne turnstiles to watch "cars circulating in practice".

"When the Sprint race was introduced in the beginning I wasn't a fan," he admitted. "After doing nine of them, I've become more in favour.

"I don't think a one-lap qualifying would ever go ahead and from the things I've heard that wouldn't be on the cards. I trust in what Stefano and F1 are doing. It's difficult to see, in the beginning, the prospects, but we've got to keep on evolving. I do think, globally, qualifying and the Grand Prix work very well, but I'm open to change, review, and going again but as I said, I trust them and I'll back them whatever they believe is right."

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Published: 01/04/2023
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