Max Verstappen calls on F1 to just ‘stick to the main race on Sunday’

Max Verstappen wearing the sprint winner's medal at the Austrian GP. Red Bull Ring July 2022. Credit: Alamy
Max Verstappen wearing the sprint winner's medal at the Austrian GP. Red Bull Ring July 2022. Credit: Alamy

Max Verstappen has again hit out at F1 sprints in the build-up to the third and last of those events for this season, which takes place in Brazil.

Formerly known as ‘sprint qualifying’ and now simply referred to as ‘sprint’ by Formula 1 themselves, three of these shorter ‘races’ have been rostered for both 2021 and 2022.

Verstappen has a 100% record in them this year, winning at Imola and Austria’s Red Bull Ring, while last season he took victory in the first one ever at Silverstone before finishing second to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at Monza and Interlagos.

The Sao Paulo venue was the only one retained to stage another sprint in this campaign, but in 2023 the number will double to six.

That is six too many as far as Verstappen is concerned.

In late summer, the now double World Champion was quoted as saying: “I just don’t like the sprints. The emotions on a Sunday should be special. That’s the only day you should race. That’s how I grew up.”

He has now had another ‘pop’, referring to the caution many drivers apply to sprints because they do not want to jeopardise their chances of a good result in the main event by getting involved in an incident that could potentially send them to the back of the grid.

“During every sprint race I’m like ‘don’t get any damage, make sure you stay in the top three’,” said the Red Bull driver, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“For me, that’s not really racing because you know there are a lot more points to be earned in the main race. In that, you take a bit more risk.

“You have an extra start. That’s exciting. But other than that, it’s only the drivers who are not in their usual position who come to the front because the tyres last a whole race. Then not much happens.”

In saying Formula 1 should simply “just stick to the main race on Sunday”, Verstappen does not see the need for extra action because he thinks the grands prix themselves tick the box in terms of providing entertainment.

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with that because we’ve had so many exciting races,” he added.

“You don’t have to add one third of a race distance. Everyone is so careful because if you make light contact in the fight for P3, for example, and fall back to last place, you know you will have a tough Sunday.

“You probably won’t take that risk, so it’s not really a race.”

Read more: Why Max Verstappen has lack of excitement about breaking F1 win record

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