Christian Horner finds unlikely ally in voicing dislike of ‘weird schedule’ for F1 sprints

Oliver Harden
Christian Horner and the AlphaTauri logo.

Christian Horner: Red Bull team principal

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has echoed Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s criticism of F1’s sprint format, claiming the “weird schedule” is just one of its many faults.

F1’s sprint format has struggled to gain popularity since it was introduced in 2021 despite the number of sprint events per season being increased from three to six in 2023.

This month has seen the first back-to-back sprint weekends in F1 history, with Qatar and Texas both hosting the alternative format.

Toto Wolff not a fan of F1 sprint format

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen clinched his third World Championship by finishing second in the former, with Interlagos set to stage the final sprint of the season next weekend.

Wolff believes that while the efforts of F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali to improve the sport’s popularity should be encouraged, sprint races are not the answer.

And, he pointed to the strange itinerary, which includes a four-and-a-half-hour gap between the start of the sprint shootout and the sprint race itself, as evidence that the format is fundamentally flawed.

He told Sky F1: “You’ve got to support Stefano, you need all the decisions that are good for business.

“I’m more conservative. I don’t like the sprint weekends. I think it’s a weird schedule, you’re taking a lot of suspense away from the Sunday to see how the ranking is going to fall in place.

“I’d rather not have them overall.”

Wolff’s criticism comes after Horner, whose Red Bull team have won four of the five sprint races held to date in 2023, claimed that F1 must do more to make the sprint format worthwhile.

He said: “I think you have got to add a bit more jeopardy to it.

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“Whether you do a reverse the top 10 or something, but then you’ve got to add enough points to it to make it worth the drivers to really go for it.

“It still doesn’t quite feel [the same when] you win a sprint race. Obviously, it doesn’t mean quite as much as a grand prix, but I think that we’re in a process where we need to be open to change and evolution.

“I think that the concept is fine, but I think the execution: we can do a better job in making it more exciting for the viewer.

“I think it’s an opportunity to do something a bit different. I think that there’s still more that we could do. I don’t know, it needs some thought to tune it up.”

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