Two-time World Champion Max Verstappen warned that he would turn his back on Formula 1 if the sport’s bosses persist with plans to expand the number of sprint events on Grand Prix weekends.
Verstappen’s gripe is with the shortened-race format that was first introduced at three rounds in 2021, and has been doubled to six for this year, with the first of the season taking place in Azerbaijan at the end of the month.
In its current guise, Friday qualifying determines the grid for Saturday’s dash. The result of the sprint then establishes the order for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
But Saturday’s schedule could now see an additional qualifying session set the grid for the sprint. Friday’s qualifying result would then be the starting order for Sunday’s main event.
The change in format could even be introduced at the next round in Baku with an informal meeting of the grid’s major players set to take place in Melbourne before Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
But Red Bull ace Verstappen, who starts from pole position in Albert Park on Sunday, said: “I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long.”
Max: I don’t find that is in the DNA of F1 to do these kinds of sprint races
Verstappen explained: “I am not a fan of it at all. When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races but it is not the right way to go about it.
“I understand they want to make every day at the track exciting but they should reduce the weekend, and only race on Saturday and Sunday and make those two days exciting.
“We are heading into seasons where we could have 24 or 25 races and if you then start adding more it is not worth it for me. I will not enjoy that. And even if you change the format, I don’t find that is in the DNA of Formula One to do these kinds of sprint races.
“F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying and having an amazing Sunday over a long race distance. That is the DNA of the sport and I don’t understand why we need to change that.
“How do you get even more action? Get the cars closer, and have more teams fighting for the wins. The show would then be great if we had six or seven teams fighting for the win.
“That would be insane and then you wouldn’t need to change anything,” ventured Verstappen, who happens to be the most successful driver in the Sprint Race format, since their addition to GP weekends.