Max Verstappen has launched a furious attack on the trend towards holding more sprint race events and qualifying sessions during the season, declaring that it could even end up driving him out of the sport.
The sprint format was introduced as a way of adding extra excitement to the race weekend, with a 30-minute dash on Saturday setting the grid for the main Grand Prix on Sunday instead of traditional qualifying.
This year there will be six sprint weekends beginning with the next race in Azerbaijan, and the sport is considering further changes to potentially add shorter, one-lap qualifying runs before the sprint.
But it’s fair to say that the reigning champion is not in favour of the trend, and he went as far as suggesting it could make him fall out of love with the sport and walk away from Formula 1 altogether if it continues.
“I’m happy with just the main race. I think that’s way better for the excitement,” he told Sport TV on Friday. “I naturally of course hope that there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long.”
But Verstappen – who is under contract to Red Bull until 2028 – took those initial comments to a whole new level on Saturday during the official FIA post-qualifying press conference in Melbourne.
“I’m not a fan of it at all,” he replied when asked about the latest proposals to revamp qualifying and sprint sessions currently being discussed by the F1 Commission and the team sporting directors.
“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 that 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.
- Read also: Verstappen on pole in Australia ahead of Russell and Hamilton
“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,” he said. “A sprint race is all about surviving, 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 I 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 do 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.”
Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were also present for the press conference and gave their own views on the current range of proposals.
“I trust in what Stefano [Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO] and F1 are doing,” said Russell. “It’s difficult to see in the beginning the prospects, but we’ve got to keep on evolving.
“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,” he added. “I do think, globally, qualifying and the Grand Prix work very well. But I’m open to change.
“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.”
“I’ve not read them so I don’t know what the rule is exactly,” said his team mate, seven-time world champion Hamilton. “But I do think we constantly need to be evolving and assessing what we’re doing.
“I’m open to changes, to continue to make it more inclusive and more engaging for the fans,” he continued. “I quite like the Friday of a Sprint weekend so far. I’d love to have more qualifying, because that’s always super-fun.
“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, [and look at] what else can we do there to make it more exciting.”
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter
Click Here: Samon Rugby Shop