Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO, rebuffed Max Verstappen’s threats to quit the sport should the weekend formats continue to change as is the case now.
F1 has six sprint race weekends planned for the 2023 season, the first of which was in Azerbaijan, where a new format for the Sprint had been trialed, one that makes it a totally separate affair from the Grand Prix. However, double F1 Champion Max Verstappen has been vocal about the changes, labelling it gambling rather than proper racing, also threatening that he won’t hang around for long if things he doesn’t like continue being introduced to the sport.
Since Liberty Media took over the commercial rights of Formula 1, they have set out changing the sport with the aim of improving the show, and attracting new fans for which they have employed tactics, like the Netflix docu-series “Drive to Survive”, sprint races, and not to mention off-track shows at some venues, mainly U.S. ones of which three are planned in 2023 – Miami, Austin, and Las Vegas.
While Verstappen may not be happy about sprint races, other drivers expressed their dislike for the splashy intro that was put on in Miami, that saw them walking out on the paddock catwalk-style, with cheerleaders waving pompoms around them.
Speaking to the Mail Sport, Domenicali addressed these latest driver mumblings; he said: “I don’t want a society in which people cannot say what they want. But drivers sometimes need to remember that they are part of a broader picture. We don’t need to be selfish.
Drivers shouldn’t be selfish
“They are part of this sport and this business, and it grows because we are thinking bigger. Sometimes being out of our comfort zone is not easy, but we cannot be lazy or complacent – just as we can review some of the specifics of the sprint weekend format at the end of the season once we have tried it out on the intended six occasions. We won’t have sprints every weekend, either,” he explained.
“But we have a new audience and need to provide value for money every session, not let everyone drive around in circles for the sole benefit of engineers and drivers,” the Italian said, referring to the standard race weekend with three practice sessions ahead of qualifying and the race.
As for Verstappen’s threats of quitting, Domenicali is not worried; he revealed: “I discussed the issues with Max (before the last race in Miami).
“He said he loved the sport and what he was doing. He is world champion and is fighting for a third title. He was born in a car. I would say he is likely to stay longer than me. It’s not a problem,” the F1 boss concluded.