Max Verstappen wants Formula 1 to scrap sprint weekends and focus instead on finding ways to close the field after the first Saturday of the year run to the tweaked trial format.
F1 introduced the sprint format in 2021 as a trial to address the balance between competitive track time and practice sessions. This year there will be six sprint rounds, the first of which is this weekend in Azerbaijan.
Under the original sprint rules, qualifying was moved to Friday and set the grid for a 30-minute, 62-mile race in the previous qualifying slot in the schedule on Saturday. The results of the sprint would then set the starting order for Sunday’s grand prix.
The rules were tweaked this week to give the sprint its own qualifying session and to have the results stand alone, with Sunday’s grid instead set directly by qualifying on Friday evening.
Verstappen has been the sprint format’s highest profile critic, and earlier this year he intimated that too many changes to the weekend schedule could see him pull the plug on his F1 career early.
Qualifying and finishing third for the first sprint of 2023 in Baku has done little to change his mind.
“Just scrap the whole thing,” he said when asked what changes he would make to improve sprint schedule. “I think it’s just important to go back to what we have and make sure every team can fight for the win. That’s what we have to try and aim for and implement.
“I got bored through today’s qualifying, to be honest. I like to have one particular qualifying where you put everything in it, and that was yesterday, which I of course enjoyed.
“Then you have to do it again today, like, ‘My god, another qualifying.’ I just don’t really enjoy that.”
Verstappen had earlier criticized sprint racing for being against the “DNA” of Formula 1, and after recovering to third after a first-lap battle with George Russell that left him with significant car damage, the Dutchman reiterated his belief that the shortened races weren’t compatible with the grand prix tour.
Instead he wants the sport to find ways to make the grid more competitive without tinkering with the format.
“It’s not proper racing — more gambling,” he said. “I think I’ll have more success in Vegas if I go to the casino.
“I like racing; I’m a pure racer. I think this is more for the show, and of course it is important to have entertainment, but I think if all the cars are closer, you create…better entertainment than trying to do it like this.
“It feels like you have a football match it’s 3-0 for one team and then suddenly you just say, ‘Let’s reset it to 0-0 and go again.’ I find it a bit unnecessary, these kinds of things.”