Max Verstappen slams F1 for Chinese GP sprint weekend decision

It's the first F1 Chinese GP since 2019 but Red Bull's Max Verstappen isn't happy it's a sprint weekend in Shanghai

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Max Verstappen isn’t impressed by Formula 1‘s decision to hold a sprint weekend on the sport’s return to China after a five-year absence, and Carlos Sainz agreeing that it’s a concern for drivers.

Unlike last year, teams can make setup changes between the end of the sprint race and the start of qualifying but both drivers highlighted the potential for issues as they reacclimatise to the Shanghai International Circuit.

The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix was the last time F1 visited and the track has since been resurfaced, while Verstappen‘s been a long-term critic of sprints so this latest development hasn’t helped to ease his ire – or sarcasm.

“It’s very smart to do that,” Verstappen joked to the media. No, I think it’s not great to do that, because when you have been away from a track for quite a while, you never know what you’re going to experience.

“So it would have been better to have a normal race weekend there. But on the other hand, it probably spice things up a bit more and that’s maybe what they would like to see. But pure from like a driving perspective, performance perspective of the sport. I think it’s not the smartest thing to do.

“But we’ll see what we get there. I always love driving there so hopefully we can hit the ground running as well as we can and hopefully we don’t need to fine-tune too many things on the car.”

Sainz: F1 headed for Istanbul 2.0?

Sainz in particular highlighted the potential problems that a new track surface could pose with only one practice session to get acclimatised before meaningful running begins.

He feared a repeat of the 2020 Turkish GP, where a smooth new layer of tarmac – that Lewis Hamilton likened to an ice rink combined with wet weather made conditions barely driveable.

Sprint winner Max Verstappen and fellow podium finishers Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz pose for a photo with their trophies in parc ferme at the 2024 Austrian GP | Clive Rose/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

At least on that occasion teams had the full three practice sessions – then lasting 90 minutes each – to get set up for the first meaningful racing of the weekend, but that luxury won’t be available in China.

“I think there’s two different topics,” Sainz said. “I think China as a race circuit is a great one, I think it’s one of our favourite ones for everyone. It’s just a great great racing track that offers good possibility to overtake so a sprint makes sense to have it there.

“At the same time, it’s what we said in the driver’s briefing with FIA and Formula One – with this kind of cars to go to our track with one hour of practice and straight into qualifying with the regulations that they put us with the plank wear and things like this and how tricky one bump could make the car, I think it’s not a good choice to choose to put the sprint after four or five years absence.

“We also heard there’s been resurfaced going on so Istanbul 2.0 maybe on the car so yeah, I hope not. It just shows the uncertainty, maybe for you guys at home it’s exciting, but for engineers and drivers it’s something that for me, we shouldn’t take the risk and have a normal weekend.”

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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