Christian Horner brands ‘meaningless’ sprints ‘long run with a medal’ in call for change

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner touches the Red Bull RB19 rear wing.

Christian Horner admits 2026 Red Bull power unit keeping him awake most at night.

Christian Horner has said he wants more “meaning” to be added to the sprint race if the format is to survive

The Sao Paulo sprint was the sixth and final edition of the revised format in 2023 and has become increasingly unpopular both within the paddock and without.

Criticised as pointless by the likes of Max Verstappen for how few championship points are awarded and how much it disrupts the weekend’s running, many have wondered how Formula 1 can attempt to fix the format.

Christian Horner says sprints are ‘long run with a medal at the end’

Horner, the current team principal who has been in the paddock the longest, has seen the sport change a lot since his first days but the sprint invention was one of the biggest changes in F1 history.

But with minimal excitement and races that often spoil the main event on Sunday, there are questions as to whether they should leave the sport three seasons after joining it.

Horner is not one who is dead against them but said they need more “meaning” for them to be successful.

“It’s got to mean something,” he told Sky Sports F1 after Verstappen’s victory at Interlagos. “You can tell at the end of that race, we’re not quite sure whether we congratulate each other or not. I think it’s got to have more meaning to it.

“It’s got to be more of an event in itself rather than an extended long run with a medal at the end. I think it needs a think over the winter because I think there’s real merit to doing something but I don’t think we’ve got it quite right at the moment.”

Horner has previously suggested alternatives and remarked that restricting the cars to parc fermé conditions after a single practice session was not conducive to food racing.

“Keep it simple. For me, parc fermé doesn’t really work after one session,” the 49-year-old said.

“Why not take championship order and just reverse the top 10 for a shootout but then it’s got to mean something. It’s got to have sufficient points [attached to it.]

Formula One Management, who ultimately decide the structure of a race weekend, have yet to openly discuss the format but their concern will have grown following reports that the Saturday tickets in Austin sold worse with a sprint added then they had done the year before.

Meanwhile, Horner’s driver Verstappen continued his dominance of the shortened format with his seventh win since the sprint debuted in 2021. Besides Verstappen, only Valtteri Bottas has won more than one sprint event.