If you asked what Max Verstappen wants from F1, his answer is “definitely fewer races” than the 24 slotted for the season ahead.
Despite winning almost every race in 2023 and strolling to a third world title, Verstappen has never been one to tow the party line.
His criticism of aspects such as sprint races and the Las Vegas Grand Prix build up were striking compared to the rest of the field and the Dutchman has a long wishlist for his F1 hopes.
Max Verstappen gives views on calendar and sprint changes
2024 sees another record-breaking season in terms of races with 24 scheduled for the year ahead, a rise of one compared to 2023 as the Chinese Grand Prix returns.
What that translates to is hundreds of hours of travelling for the drivers and staff and many days away from home and while Verstappen crosses the globe in a private jet, even he feels the fatigue.
“Definitely fewer races,” he told Auto Motor und Sport of his F1 wish. “For me, we have too many. But we are not the ones who decide. Not even the FIA.
“But I would always argue in favour of fewer races and more quality. And the teams? Only if they are of good quality and not just filling up the field.”
On the sprint races, he reiterated his point that a shorter format “takes away some of the magic” of Sunday’s grand prix.
“I’ve always said that I understand the business side,” the Red Bull driver continued. “But I look at it as a pure racer. It takes away some of the magic.
“When I switched on the TV as a kid, I used to wonder with excitement what was going to happen in the race. As a fan, you don’t have all the inside information on tyre degradation or anything like that.
“You see a Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari on the grid and you wonder how it’s going to end.
“A sprint race more or less lets you know what’s going to happen the next day. Unless there are crazy circumstances. For example, a change in the weather.
“Normally you can judge the race pace after a sprint. I think that takes the tension away. Maybe the start is still exciting.
“The format is generally quite hectic. I don’t mind only having one practice session before qualifying. But the new qualifying for the sprint? That doesn’t give me much, because we’ve already done the big qualifying session. That’s the important session.
“In the sprint, the winner only wins eight points. The differences between second or third are not big. It doesn’t make much difference.”
One of the consistent complaints from other members of the paddock is parc ferme which is enforced ahead of Friday’s quali, giving teams just one practice session to set up their car.
“That’s another one of those things: the setup. You lock it in after the first practice session,” Verstappen said.
“If you’re wrong, you’re trapped in that car setup for the rest of the weekend. That sucks. That happened to us last year in Brazil. This year we had a couple of good sprint weekends.
“Nevertheless, I wasn’t completely satisfied. With the ground clearance in Austin, for example. Mercedes and Ferrari certainly didn’t set their cars too low on purpose. But once you get on the wrong track, you can’t get away from it. You can only react with the tyre pressure. And if the tyre pressure is high, you’re completely lost.
“That’s annoying. If you want to continue to have sprints, you have to make changes from my point of view.”