Verstappen Demands F1 Abandon Sprint Weekend Format
F1 superstar Max Verstappen vehemently calls for the abandonment of Formula 1’s new sprint weekend format, labeling it as “artificial excitement” and contrary to the sport’s DNA. Despite securing third place in the first sprint race of 2023, Verstappen expressed his dissatisfaction with the revised format, which he sees as prioritizing spectacle over genuine racing.
Max Verstappen believes that Formula 1 should completely abandon its new sprint weekend format adjustments.
The series introduced a revised sprint weekend schedule in Baku, featuring an extra ‘shootout’ qualifying session in the morning and the typical sprint race in the afternoon.
These changes have turned the sprint day into a separate event, with Friday’s qualifying determining Sunday’s grand prix grid positions, while Saturday’s events have no impact on the grand prix except for grid penalties.
Verstappen began the first sprint race of 2023 in third position, but had to endure a tough battle with George Russell during the first lap, which caused damage to his Red Bull RB19.
Although he managed to overtake Russell and secure third place, Verstappen expressed frustration with both Russell and the sprint race format during the post-race press conference.
When asked for his opinion on the new format, Verstappen stated, “Just scrap the whole thing.”
He suggested that the series should return to the previous format, focusing on allowing each team to compete for victories, rather than introducing “artificial excitement.”
Verstappen also mentioned his boredom during the qualifying session, preferring a single, high-stakes qualifying round. He enjoyed the previous day’s session but found the repetition in the new format unappealing, saying, “I was like ‘my God, another qualifying’. I just don’t really enjoy that.”
Verstappen, a long-time critic of F1’s sprint races, has previously argued that they contradict the “DNA of Formula 1” and focus more on “surviving rather than racing,” as he commented at the Australian Grand Prix earlier in the month.
In Baku, he further expressed that sprints seem to prioritize spectacle over enhancing the racing experience.
Verstappen described the situation as chaotic and more akin to gambling than actual racing, stating, “I’d have more success in Vegas if I go to the casino.” He believes that providing entertainment is important, but having closely matched cars would create better excitement instead of adopting this approach.
He compared the format to resetting a football match’s score when one team is leading, calling it “unnecessary.”
Meanwhile, sprint race winner Sergio Perez showed greater support for the sprint weekend concept, but insisted that the standard grand prix weekend should remain the norm for most races.
Perez also criticized the tire rule in the qualifying shootout, which prevented Lando Norris from participating in SQ3 due to a lack of new softs and a prohibition on used tires. This regulation is expected to be revised for future events.
Perez emphasized that he doesn’t want the sprint format to become standard, saying, “What we have in a normal weekend makes it really exciting for fans, it’s what we’ve grown up with and it’s how it should stay.” He is open to having a few sprint format races per year, as long as they refine small details such as timing and tire usage.
Baku sprint polesitter and runner-up Charles Leclerc stated that he doesn’t dislike the new format, considering it an improvement over the previous year’s. However, he agreed with Perez that having “three or four” sprints per season would be preferable, despite this year’s calendar featuring six.
Leclerc explained that the new format places increased pressure on drivers, with fewer opportunities to make mistakes and less time for race preparation. He also expressed a desire to change the SQ3 tire rule and suggested adjustments to the timing of events.
Lewis Hamilton shared Leclerc’s opinion on the weekend schedule, noting that there is “a lot of time wasted on the weekend” and suggesting that it could be condensed into fewer days.
To shorten the format, Hamilton proposed reducing the waiting time between sessions, stating that at least three sessions could have been completed on the same day. However, he acknowledged the potential challenges of accommodating other racing series during the event.
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