Max Verstappen has lambasted Sprint weekends as taking away from the magic of Formula 1 despite winning Saturday’s Sprint Race at the 2023 United States Grand Prix.
After losing pole for Sunday’s US Grand Prix because of track limits infringements, Verstappen was back to his best on Saturday, topping the Sprint Shootout before winning the Sprint Race by over nine seconds from Lewis Hamilton.
Nevertheless, Verstappen reiterated his stance on sprint races in general, and feels they take away a lot of the excitement of an F1 Grand Prix weekend.
“If you want my honest opinion about the Sprint weekends, I don’t get excited by it,” Verstappen explained to the press. “I just feel once you complete qualifying, you’re a bit lost.
“I feel we only need one qualifying session in the weekend. Where you put everything on the line, besides that, now we’ve done this race, everyone more or less knows what’s going to happen tomorrow.
“If I were a fan, I would be disappointed. Because you more or less know what’s going to happen tomorrow. So, it takes away that magic of waking up on a Sunday morning or afternoon.
“Turning on the TV and you had to qualifying, but you’re not sure which car is going to be quickest, and yeah, it takes that magic away, I find.”
Hamilton a fan of the Sprints
In contrast, Hamilton praised the sprint format for its limited practice time, emphasising the importance of the one practice session the teams and drivers have before Qualifying.
Second place in the US GP Sprint Race helped Hamilton reduce the gap between himself and Verstappen‘s teammate Sergio Perez from 30 points to 27 in their battle for runners-up honours in the drivers championship.
“Slightly different perspective for me, it’s fun,” said Hamilton. “I like having the extra opportunity to get out there and try to squeeze everything every little bit more out of the package that we have.
“Can it be better? I’m sure we can learn from [it]. I think it’s been exciting for [the] people, so I personally quite like the sprint weekends.
“Particularly a Friday. I really like only having one practice session, and then you straight into qualifying.”
Leclerc remains undecided on sprint races
After missing out in the Sprint Shootout, Leclerc was squeezed out on the run down to Turn 1, losing second to Hamilton and consigning him to a quiet race, finishing a distant third.
Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, had a more eventful Sprint starting on the softs, the only driver to do so with the 19 runners starting on mediums.
After losing two positions in the opening laps as his softs began to degrade, Sainz defended vigorously from George Russell in the final laps, holding the Mercedes at bay to secure sixth.
“I think some things are nice, others that are less nice,” said Leclerc. “What I enjoy is Friday only having one free practice and go straight into qualifying this is something that, as a driver, I like.
“But then there are maybe other things that we need to look into. I think in Qatar, it was a very exciting Sprint race because we had two compounds that were very different.
“So one [compound] was extremely good in the first six-seven laps and then had a lot of degradation. The other [compound] was really good towards the end, and that makes the Sprint really exciting.
“Otherwise, we’ve got races like today where everybody apart from Carlos, unfortunately, uses the medium, and then it’s a bit of a train.”