Max Verstappen stands firm in criticism of sprint races even after format change

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen speaks to the media. Baku April 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen speaks to the media ahead of the weekend. Azerbaijan April 2023.

Max Verstappen continued to criticise the sprint format even after F1 bosses altered the structure for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

For the first time, Saturday morning’s session will be a ‘Sprint Shootout’ to decide the sprint grid with the whole day acting as a separate event from the race itself.

Whereas in the past, the grid for Sunday’s race was decided by the finishing order of the sprint, now the sprint is a standalone race with the main race’s grid being decided in qualifying on Friday afternoon.

While other drivers seem largely pleased with the shake-up, Verstappen has often been against it and stated that there is not much reward for the level of risk that is placed upon the cars at the front.

“Maybe some people who were outside of the points and they try to get a point,” Verstappen replied when asked by Sky Sports F1 if drivers were going to go for it during Saturday’s sprint. “I think once you’re up front, like us, I mean, it’s like eight, seven, six [points]. It’s not making a massive difference and the risk involved of potentially having a shunt.

“I don’t really see it being a lot different than what it was in the previous sprint weekend. I think there will be a little bit more chaos around because of the extra qualifying but this track anyway is normally quite chaotic so this will only make it a little bit more chaotic. recommends

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“But from my side, I don’t think it actually really will change a lot you know, if you’re first, second, third you’re quite happy in that position and just get the points and get it over with and focus on the race.”

Verstappen has previously suggested that further changes to the format could make him consider his future in F1 and reiterated the point that he believed the traditional way of doing things was the best.

“At the end of the day, you have to be okay with it,” Verstappen said. “I love racing in general but sometimes I do feel like that you don’t need to really touch anything.

“I always thought that the Sunday was great. Of course I understand selling more tickets on a Friday and Saturday to make every day worth fighting for but when you do eventually like 24, 25 race weekends, I think a good option would anyway be to shorten the weekend a bit.

“Because some people love racing and they will do it forever but it also needs to be healthy as well. At one point you start questioning that as well and then if you also add in sprint weekends it makes it all in all even more busy.”