Scrap sprint races and go back to the regular format, Verstappen tells F1 · RaceFans

Max Verstappen gave a withering verdict on Formula 1’s latest changes to its sprint race format after its debut today.

The Red Bull driver has often criticised the sprint race format since F1 introduced it two years ago. The series attempted to address some of the complaints which its revisions introduced this weekend.

They include making the sprint race a standalone event, which does not decide the starting grid for the grand prix. The sprint race also has its own qualifying session, which takes place on Saturday morning.

However Verstappen doesn’t believe the changes have made the format worth keeping. He urged F1 to revert to only using the regular grand prix weekend format and focus on making the field more competitive instead of resorting to gimmicks.

“Just scrap the whole thing,” he said. “I think it’s just important to go back to what we had and make sure that every team can fight for a win. That’s what we have to try and aim for.”

The sprint races only produce “artificial excitement,” said Verstappen. “I got bored through today’s qualifying, to be honest.

“I like to have one particular qualifying where you just put everything in it and that was yesterday, which I of course enjoy, and then they have to do it again today. I’m like, my God, another qualifying? I just don’t really enjoy that.”

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Verstappen finished third in today’s race behind team mate Sergio Perez, who won, and Charles Leclerc. While neither of the others was as critical of the format as Verstappen, both admitted there is still room for improvement and they do not want to see it used for all races.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race in pictures

“I think I don’t hate this format,” said Leclerc. “I think it’s a better format than last year’s sprint format. I prefer this one.

“I wouldn’t want this to be the standard format in the future. I think it’s fine if we have three or four races like that in a year.

“It puts a lot more pressure on the drivers because basically there’s only one session where you can do a mistake, which is FP1. After that every lap you do is really important. And you also have a lot less preparation. So the preparation for the race beforehand at the simulator is extremely important.”

Leclerc said F1 needs to change the rule which requires drivers to use new soft tyres in SQ3, which resulted in Lando Norris being unable to run in that session today. “It’s a shame, I think, to not see Lando drive this morning because he didn’t have the set of tyres.”

Perez believes drivers “don’t want this to become a standard weekend” format. “I think what we have in a normal weekend makes it really exciting and better for fans. This is what we’ve grown up with and it’s how it should stay.

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“But I’m happy if we have three or four races like this with the sprint format and just make sure we correct small details like the timing, like the usage of the tyre. I think it looked really bad to have [cars] without tyres in Q3.

“Just make sure that we correct that and have a few races like this in the year, maximum.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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