Max Verstappen joins Lewis Hamilton in criticism of altered Hungarian GP format

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) looks bored during Thursday's FIA press conference at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) looks bored during Thursday's FIA press conference at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton is not a fan of the new format being trialled at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and for once has Max Verstappen as an ally on this topic.

In the first of two scheduled Alternative Tyre Allocation [ATA] trials in F1 2023, drivers have seen their usual allocation of 13 sets of slick tyres reduced to 11 at the Hungaroring.

And come qualifying, drivers will be required to contest Q1 on the hard tyre, Q2 on the medium and Q3 on the soft, rather than having free choice throughout the sessions.

Max Verstappen joins Lewis Hamilton in hitting out at format

The thinking behind this alternate format is that Formula 1 can take a step closer to its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 by reducing the amount of tyres being distributed for race weekends, though on-track the results have not been ideal judging by Friday’s action.

Mercedes’ George Russell has revealed that he spent all of FP2 on a set of used soft tyres, with his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton, who also ran one set, slamming the format, claiming it takes “time on track away from the fans”.

And Verstappen does not support the initiative either, saying the battle it creates to save tyres is “not the correct thing”.

Asked by media personnel to comment on the feeling of the RB19 upgrades for the Hungarian GP, Verstappen replied: “Honestly, it’s very hard to comment on. We will look through the data to see if everything is correlating well because we haven’t used a lot of tyre sets today.

“With this new format, you are just super limited with the tyre sets that you can use, and I didn’t want to use them today to at least have a bit more of a better preparation tomorrow.

“But it’s a bit of a shame – there are so many people around and you basically don’t really run a lot.

“We have to see what we can do to improve that, because we are literally saving tyres, which I think is not the correct thing.”

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Haas driver Kevin Magnussen proposed that this different format could be improved by reducing the practice sessions down to two or even one, as is the case on a sprint weekend, rather than the customary trio of one-hour practice sessions.

“They might as well cut down the sessions,” he suggested. “Just have maybe one practice or two.”

Verstappen recorded a P11 finish in FP2, an unfamiliar occurrence for the World Championship leader who is on a run of six wins in succession.

But looking beyond what was a rather unrepresentative session and to the RB19’s long-run pace, Verstappen believes that is looking pretty handy.

“The long-run looked quite competitive,” he said.

“So it’s a bit difficult to say over one-lap pace, but overall the car is strong.”

Verstappen takes a 99-point lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez into the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Read next: Lewis Hamilton doubles down on format change criticism and suggests alternative plan