Max Verstappen fires sarcastic criticism at ‘beautiful format’ of sprint weekend

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen sitting in the cockpit of the Red Bull RB19.

Max Verstappen sits in the Red Bull cockpit.

Max Verstappen may have taken pole for the Austin sprint but that did not stop him from once again airing his grievances over the format.

Practically since the concept was first introduced last year, Verstappen has been against the weekend structure of a sprint race.

His frustrations have only got worse this year with the introduction of the sprint shootout in place of FP2 and even after coming out on top in Texas, Verstappen criticised the “beautiful format” of a sprint weekend.

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Verstappen had some ground to make up having put himself on the back foot in Sunday’s race following a mistake in qualifying on Friday.

During Friday’s running, it was clear that such was the limited running allowed this weekend, Verstappen was finding it hard to find his rhythm in the RB19 but with sprint rules being as they are, he was stuck with the car setup regardless of whether he liked it or not.

“The problem with this beautiful format is that you can’t really change anything on the car,” he said. “Once you commit to something, you’re stuck with it for the rest of the weekend.

“But we tried to optimise everything we could of what we can control and I think it was a little bit better today than yesterday.

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“I was pleased with the efforts, I think that final lap was not perfect but it was good enough for pole so that’s of course what matters but it’s quite tricky to nail the lap.

“[There are] a lot of corners where things can go wrong but I think the whole morning session basically we were on top of things. So I think that’s positive.”

Verstappen will start on pole in the sprint race later on Saturday and warned that COTA is not a track that allows unlimited pushing even over the shortened distance.

“It’s all very tight, a lot of different cars are very, very quick,” the three-time World Champion said.

“So it’s all going to depend on how you can keep your tyres alive in the race. Of course, it’s called a sprint race, but it’s not really a sprint. It’s still saving time, especially on tracks where the wear is quite high which is here. So it’s going to be quite interesting.”

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