McLaren legend questions constant changes to Formula 1 format

F1 has tweaked the format of Sprint races for 2024 with the the Chinese, Miami, Austrian, United States, Sao Paulo and Qatar Grand Prix holding the alternative weekend schedule


Former McLaren Formula 1 team coordinator Jo Ramirez has questioned the necessity of constantly changing the format of a Grand Prix weekend.

Since the inaugural Sprint at the 2021 British Grand Prix, F1 has gradually increased the number of Sprint races during a season, from three in 2021 and 2022 to six in 2023 and 2024.

But despite the sport’s bosses claiming the Sprint race idea has been a success, not everyone is a fan. Triple world champion Max Verstappen, one of the prominent critics of the Sprints, has called for them to be scrapped on multiple occasions and return to a regular race weekend format.

“Well, I would probably be afraid to be told that I’m old fashioned, and that’s how we stand today, we have to change, we have to make different things to get the people more involved in it,” told Ramirez exclusively to

“To me, the Sprint races are boring, nobody tries as hard as there is not enough reward, whether you win or not. There is more trouble for the teams, and there are more chances to have crashes.

“I can’t remember where it was, [but] there were a few crashes, and then two or three teams had to rebuild the cars for racing the next day, which is not a joke there is a lot of money involved, and a lot of hours and work to get those cars ready for the Grand Prix. 

“Okay, they [the Sprints] improved a little bit, and some of those races were a little better and also, the distribution of the points is better than it used to be before. But why do they always need to change something? I don’t like to be changing things for the sake of changing. I like the traditional way. 

“I think that the Sprint races are here to stay at least four, five or six races every year. Which is not too bad as long as [they] don’t put any more [on], it’s okay.”

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lando Norris of McLaren into Turn 1 during 2023 Brazilian GP Sprint Race | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lando Norris of McLaren into Turn 1 during 2023 Brazilian GP Sprint Race | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Two-day format ‘dreadful’ for fans

Introducing the Sprint races has reduced practice time from three sessions across a normal weekend to just one practice session before Friday’s Sprint Shootout for 2024.

The Sprint Shootout took place on Saturday mornings in 2023, but the session will now move to Friday afternoon for 2024, with the Sprint on Saturday morning and normal qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Another idea designed to cut practice time was the two-day race weekend brought in for the 2020 Emilia Romagna GP at Imola. This meant there was no running on Friday, with only one 90-minute practice session on Saturday morning before qualifying.

“I would like to see more practice on Friday for the public to see and for the teams to do more testing,” reiterated Ramirez. “There is no testing at venues anymore, except at the beginning of the year, so it will be nice to see more testing done on the Fridays before the race.

“I think that will be something of an advantage for the fans and for the teams, but they seem to be reducing that maybe one day we’re going to be as already been suggested to just have Saturday and Sundays and nothing on Fridays. 

“And I think that will be dreadful because then, on Friday, the promoters won’t have any time to promote the race for the weekend. So god forbid we’re going to stop [practice] on Fridays because, as I said, it’s a good opportunity for the teams to do some testing and for the fans to see more cars running.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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