Max Verstappen scathing on sprints: ‘Just scrap the whole thing’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen inspects his car. Baku April 2023.

Max Verstappen looks over the damage on his Red Bull after the sprint race. Azerbaijan April 2023.

Max Verstappen has reiterated his criticism of Formula 1’s sprint race format at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, urging the sport to “just scrap the whole thing”.

The sprint system has divided drivers and fans since its introduction in 2021, with the number of sprint weekends doubled from three to six for the 2023 season.

Ahead of F1’s return to action in Baku this weekend, tweaks were approved to encourage more risk-taking in sprints with an extra qualifying session – known as the Sprint Shootout – held on Saturday morning and outcome of the sprint race having no bearing on the grand prix proper on Sunday.

Verstappen has long been a critic of F1’s attempts to spice up the show and, appearing in the post-sprint press conference in Baku, the two-time World Champion says the time has come for the sport to move on from the current format.

He said: “Just scrap the whole thing.

“I think it’s just important to go back to what we have, and make sure that every team can fight for a win.

“That’s what we have to try and aim for and [not] try to implement all this kind of artificial excitement.

“I would say I got bored through today’s qualifying, to be honest. recommends

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“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.”

Outqualified by Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in Saturday morning’s Sprint Shootout, Verstappen could only manage third in the race as Perez claimed the win.

Verstappen’s race was defined by a first-lap collision with George Russell, whose attempt to pass the Dutchman at Turn 2 left a gaping hole in the sidepod of his RB19.

Verstappen went on to confront Russell in parc ferme at the end of the race, branding the Mercedes driver a “d**khead” in a heated exchange.

Russell admitted to being “surprised” by Verstappen’s angry reaction to the incident, with Verstappen unimpressed by Russell’s attempt to explain the collision.

“I just don’t understand why you need to take so much risk on Lap 1,” he said.

“He understeered into my sidepod, created a hole. We all have cold tyres, it’s all easy to lock up…but you know, his beautiful way of explaining ‘oh mate, you know, I locked up, oh look at the board’…. well, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s fine.

“We still got into P3, got some good points, but it is what it is.”