Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks to the media in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Lusail International Circuit on October 05, 2023 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1: Verstappen again pans Sprint races, and he’s right

Max Verstappen has once again criticized F1’s sprint format, saying a regular race weekend format is better for all involved.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Sprint races were introduced to make race weekends more interesting to the fans.  But is it really? If their driver and team miss the setup because of only a single practice session they go home disappointed.

In the end, there is only 1 winner and 19 losers.  Fans of the 19 losers feel cheated.

Taking this weekend as an example, the teams and drivers only get one practice session in conditions far different from what it will be in race conditions.

Time of Day Session Conditions
Friday Afternoon Only Practice Session  Hot, track green, sand covered
Friday Night Qualifying for Sunday night race  Tracks cools, partially rubbered in, cars in Parc fermé lockdown
Saturday Afternoon Sprint Race Qualifying  Hot, track rubbers in further, cars in Parc fermé lockdown
Saturday Night Sprint Race Tracks cools, outcome predicts GP outcome – cars in Parc fermé lockdown
Sunday Night Qatar GP Track fully rubbered in, cooler conditions


Get your setup wrong in the one-hour session and your weekend is screwed because the cars go into Parc fermé lockdown.

Teams spend millions of dollars per race, only to have it all jeopardized because everyone only gets one hour of practice.

Because the newly paved circuit will have sand on it to start the weekend, and the practice session run in the heat of the day, teams have to guess the car setups for the remainder of the weekend in cooler conditions and the track rubbered in.

Verstappen has been consistent in his disdain for the F1 Sprint weekends, which were introduced at the start of 2021.

“I prefer the normal racing format. I think it’s just a bit more exciting,” Verstappen said.

“Especially in qualifying, you can go more to the limit because you know more of what you’ve done in practice.

“For example in Suzuka, if you do FP1 there and then go straight into qualifying, you risk having bigger shunts. It’s just not as fulfilling. I always keep saying that once we do a sprint race, you will get the big picture anyway for the main race.

“So you know, more or less already: ‘Oh, well, this guy is going to be really good in the race, the other one is going to drop back’. So it takes a little bit of the excitement away. I remember from what I was a fan, just from the outside of the F1 world, you don’t know which cars are particularly amazing in the long run.

“You watch qualify like, ‘oh, wow, OK’, but it might be that one car is in front and he 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 fall. Because of the sprint race… it takes that away. You’re like: ‘If nothing happens, he doesn’t crash, they’re gonna win the race’, that team or whatever.”

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