Max Verstappen accused Formula 1‘s sprint format of removing unpredictability about race winners, in a 2023 season where he’s won 13 out of 16 races and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez has won two of the remaining three.
Red Bull drivers have won 12 out of 13 non-sprint weekend grand prix, with only their uncompetitive showing in Singapore breaking the perfect streak, where they almost certainly would’ve been slower than Ferrari and Mercedes regardless of format.
Verstappen‘s criticised the sprints all season, despite being F1‘s dominant driver in the format that was introduced in 2021 – he’s won five out of the nine that have run so far with Valtteri Bottas the only other driver to take more than one victory.
“You’re like, if nothing happens, if he doesn’t crash, they’re gonna win the race, that team or whatever,” Verstappen told the press.
“Like you watch qualifying, it might be that one cars in front will drop back in the race, which is all unclear. And then you wake up, for the Sunday race, and then you all see them fold.
“If I remember from when I was a fan, you don’t know which cars are particularly amazing in the long run, or have they nailed the race setup, the sprint race takes that already a bit away.
“So you know, more or less already ‘this guy’s going to be really good in the race, the other one is going to drop back’ so it takes a little bit the excitement away.”
Verstappen: F1 isn’t interested in drivers’ opinions
Verstappen is set to win his third drivers’ championship at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, and could have it wrapped up after the sprint race if he finishes in the top six.
He promised that wouldn’t be an anti-climax and he’d still find a way to celebrate ahead of Sunday’s grand prix, but added he doesn’t feel Formula 1 is listening to drivers’ preferences.
However, there’s not been a unanimous consensus from drivers on the sprints, with some including Lewis Hamilton backing the format because it gives them more meaningful and competitive time behind the wheel.
“It’s probably not in their interest to listen to what the drivers say,” Verstappen added. “They want to spice it up a bit and maybe sell more tickets, I look at it from the pure racing side.
“But of course, I also understand the commercial side and reasons behind it. So you have to take it from both ways, I understand why they try to spice it up.
“I think for the drivers, I prefer just the normal racing format, it’s just a bit more exciting and especially in qualifying, you can go more to the limit because you know more of what you’ve done in practice.
“If you do FP1 there and then go straight into qualifying, it’s just not as fulfilling.”