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Leclerc and Verstappen hit disagreement on value of sprint races

Max Verstappen criticised sprint races for being too boring, but Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Haas' Kevin Magnussen praised them ahead of the 2022 F1 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen‘s negative view of sprint races wasn’t shared by Charles Leclerc – or Kevin Magnussen – ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix as Verstappen said he found the races boring leading from the front.

Verstappen‘s been the most successful sprint racer in F1 so far with three wins from five attempts, but it’s his rivals that prefer the format as both Leclerc and Magnussen said they liked the shorter practice time on those weekends.

“I’m just not a big fan of it,” Verstappen said. “I feel like we don’t really race, there are a few points that you get but you also know that you can’t really risk it because the main race is where you really get the points.”

Brazil will be the sixth sprint race of F1, and the third in 2022. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix featured the best sprint race so far, where Leclerc battled Verstappen but eventually lost out to the Dutchman, and he’s yet to take victory in a sprint race.

“Yeah I like the Friday,” Leclerc said. “Especially because normally it’s a bit of a boring Friday on normal race weekends, you’ve got FP1, FP2 and you do many laps for not much but now on sprint weekend you need to be straight away on it in FP1 and then you’ve got qualifying straight away so that I enjoy.”

Max Verstappen in the Red Bull Racing leads Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz during 2022 Austrian Grand Prix Sprint. Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Haas driver Magnussen was firmly in Leclerc’s camp and backed up the stance that Sprint Races are better than a practice session.

“Yeah it must be really boring,” Magnussen said, in response to Verstappen‘s complaint that it sprint races are boring when dominating from the front.

“I kind of like it, Max has a good point that the risk that you want to take in the sprint is less because it decides the position for Sunday so I think maybe a good tweak could be to separate that so you can go for it.

“I do enjoy going from Practice 1 straight into Qualifying as well because as Max says, it puts a lot of pressure on to find the rhythm quickly and get the setup right because I think that when there’s three practices it’s quite a lot, so anyway I kinda like it.”

Drivers agree on practice sessions

One positive the drivers did agree on was the lack of practice running.

There’s only two free practice sessions and one before meaningful running begins with qualifying on Friday evening.

With the season winding down for some, there’s been a slew of other drivers being given practice sessions as per the new FIA requirement.

Across the last two rounds alone, eight rookies have had chance to run in F1 machinery plus Antonio Giovinazzi with Haas, and established drivers haven’t been fighting too hard to keep hold of those sessions.

“I do like having one FP1 and it’s straight into qualifying,” Verstappen conceded. “I don’t mind that because it’s less practice for everyone to get fully up to speed and you need to really nail the setup.

“So that’s ok but I always feel I bit that when I go into a sprint race it’s really risking a lot and just wanting to play safe. Everyone has their own opinion but for me it’s not that fun.

“You don’t do a pit stop so you just put on a tyre that will last the distance, with these cars the racing is a little bit better but overall you don’t really see a lot of overtaking unless there’s a car out of position so then yeah it’s not really that fun for me.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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