Max Verstappen has urged F1 to relax the parc fermé rules on sprint weekends to allow teams to finesse their cars and correct potential setup mistakes.
Under F1’s existing sprint format, teams have just one hour of practice – compared to three on a standard race weekend – to hone their setups ahead of qualifying on a Friday, with the cars untouched for the remainder of the weekend.
This quirk famously caught Red Bull out in Brazil last year, when the team were unable to identify a workable setup in the limited practice time available on a sprint weekend.
Max Verstappen set to be crowned three-time World Champion in Qatar
Mercedes driver George Russell went on to win at Interlagos on that occasion, with Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez struggling to sixth and seventh respectively.
Red Bull have made a clear improvement in this area in 2023, setting pole at two of the three sprint races held so far in Austria and Belgium. However, ahead of the fourth of six sprint races in Qatar on Saturday, Verstappen has called for a tweak to the format.
Despite claiming pole position for Sunday’s grand prix at Lusail, the Dutchman feels teams should be granted more freedom on sprint weekends.
Asked to estimate how optimised the RB19 car was on Friday in Qatar compared to a standard weekend with three practice sessions, Verstappen said in the post-qualifying press conference: “It’s difficult to say where we would have ended up if we would have had a normal weekend, but with the track conditions for sure it’s a little bit more difficult to anticipate stuff.
“But I think we did the best we could really. I think it’s never going to be perfect, but clearly it was good enough and I was quite happy with the car in qualifying.
“But it can also be that sometimes – and we’ve had it in the past – you make a few decisions where you think it’s going to be OK and then it doesn’t work out and then your whole weekend is ruined because you can’t touch the car.
“I think that is a bit of a shame and that’s maybe something we have to look into for the future if we want to continue doing these kinds of events.
“I understand for the show it’s good to mix it up a bit, of course, but at least you should be able to correct your mistake or potential mistake.”
Verstappen is set to secure his third successive World Championship in Qatar, with the 26-year-old requiring a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s sprint race to clinch the crown.