Verstappen and Perez call for changes to Sprint weekend format

There have been 12 F1 Sprint weekends since they were introduced in 2021

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Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have criticised Formula 1‘s Sprint weekends for their lack of excitement, despite benefitting from the extra points on offer.

Verstappen openly loathes the Sprint format and has called for it to be scrapped as early as the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stating they take away from the intrigue of a Grand Prix.

Despite his dislike of the format, Verstappen dominated Saturday’s Sprint at Interlagos, winning by over four seconds from Lando Norris and Perez.

Tyre management marred Saturday’s Sprint race in Brazil, with drivers unable to push flat out for 24 laps to preserve their used rubber to the chequered flag.

“Just a normal race weekend, please,” bluntly expressed Verstappen when asked what he would like changed from the Sprint by the media “I’m not interested in any change. I don’t like it.”

Perez calls for reversed grids to fix poor quality of racing

Drivers’ opinions on the Sprint are split, with Verstappen and rookie Logan Sargeant not fans of the format. In contrast, Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc like the format due to there only being one practice session before qualifying rather than the traditional three in a conventional race weekend.

Regardless of drivers’ opinions, Sprint race weekends will remain for 2024 with F1 bosses in talks to change the format, which would see Qualifying moved back to Saturday afternoon from Friday.

The Sprint itself would be moved to Saturday morning before, with the Sprint shootout moved to Friday afternoon after a single practice session.

One idea suggested to help improve excitement in the Sprint would be the introduction of reverse grid races currently in use in F1‘s support categories, Formula 2 and Formula 3.

The reversed grid idea could be determined by reverse championship order, meaning the last driver in the standings would start on pole with the championship leader at the back.

“I think if they want to keep this format of sprint races, we’ve got to change it. I would propose a reverse grid. Something like that to make it more interesting for the fans,” assessed Perez.

“I don’t think it’s working what we want to achieve, and yeah, nothing really happens in these sorts of races.

“I think [a reverse grid will] mix up things and create more opportunities, a lot more overtaking. If we want to keep this format, give it a go on something quite different because for the last two years, this sort of event hasn’t brought a lot of good racing.”

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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