Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2021

Verstappen prefers “traditional” F1 race weekend format to sprint events

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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[raceweekendpromotion]Formula 1’s championship contenders gave a lukewarm reception to the return of its sprint qualifying format at this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The revised format is being trialled for the third and final time this year at the Interlagos circuit. Qualifying will take place tomorrow following a single practice session, which will decide the starting order for a short race on Saturday, which will set the grid for Sunday’s race.

However Max Verstappen, who leads the standings by 19 points, says he prefers F1’s usual race weekend format. He doesn’t expect this weekend’s venue will produce a more exciting race than the previous two sprint events at Silverstone and Monza.

“I think the main excitement comes from the start because after that, in the amount of laps you do, you put the tyre on which will last to the end mainly, especially the guys in the front, and there’s not a lot of passing going on,” he said. “So I don’t think it really matters at what track you do it.”

F1 has already confirmed it will hold sprint events at six rounds next year, but is considering several changes to the format. “There are still, I think, a few things to fine-tune about it” said Verstappen. “But if people like the excitement of the start then to do two starts in a weekend, why not?

“Personally, I’m a bit more of the traditional F1 weekend can where, if we have competitive cars and just all the teams close together, then naturally you don’t need to change anything. So we’ll see.”

Verstappen’s championship rival Lewis Hamilton also doubts the Interlagos circuit will prove a better venue for the sprint format.

“This is not a very good track for overtaking,” he said. “Of course you’ve got that long straight but I believe it’s close to one of the hardest places for overtaking. In the list, it’s on the edge of one of the hardest of the year.

“You’ve got to have something like a 1.1 second advantage on the car ahead to have a 50 percent chance of overtaking or something crazy like that. So it’s not a great one for it now.”

Charles Leclerc says he is a fan of the format as it creates more interest on Fridays. But he admits the extra Saturday race itself has room for improvement.

“I quite like those weekends, especially the Friday which normally I don’t really like on a normal weekend. So to have the qualifying straightaway, the Friday afternoon, this makes it exciting for everyone.

“Then Saturday, the sprint race, maybe there are a few things that we could change in the future. But still, I am very excited for this weekend and I think again it’s a bit different to normal so maybe it is an opportunity for us to do even better.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Verstappen prefers “traditional” F1 race weekend format to sprint events”

  1. Of course you’ve got that long straight but I believe it’s close to one of the hardest places for overtaking. In the list, it’s on the edge of one of the hardest of the year.

    So which track is good to overtake then? There’s none left anymore. All those tipped to allow more overtaking possibilities have been discredited as such by many commentators and even drivers.

  2. Agree with Verstappen too.

    The so called “Sprint” is a wasted debacle.

  3. Is it 6 rounds next year or an additional 6, making it 9? I’ve seen both quoted.

    Either way it ruins the flow of the weekend for me and takes away the tension.

  4. For this and any future gimmick race weekends I shall be watching FP1, Recording the real qualifying session, Skipping FP2, Skipping the gimmick race & watching the recording of the actual qualifying in it’s place & then tuning into the real race 5 minutes before the start & turning off as soon as the last car passes the chequered flag.

    I want nothing to do with the gimmick race or format so won’t be paying it any attention. To me it won’t exist & any changes in the starting order it creates i’ll simply put down to post qualifying penalties.

    Vote with your eyeball’s people, I know skipping this stuff can be hard for the most dedicated fans who despise this format the most but we got to be strong on this as it’s the only way to let them know we don’t like it & don’t want it.

    We can beat this gimmick but we have to be tough & we have to stick together on this!

    #SwitchOffTheSprint!

    1. I suggest we go further @roger-ayles.

      I’m not watching ANY of Brazil, and won’t be watching any part of the 6 next year, recorded or not. I’ll just look at this site to see the results.

      We really need to remove eyeballs conclusively.

    2. Sprint Qualifying caused the Racing Incidents between Max and Lewis. We can’t afford any more of this!

  5. Being a UK viewer without Sky sprint ruins the weekend. On a normal weekend on Channel 4 we get highlights of qualifying and the race. On a sprint race weekend we don’t see qualifying, just sprint race and race. While qualifying can provide interest all the way through the sprint race is pretty much over after the first two or three corners. From comments I’ve seen the sprint is almost universally disliked by fans, drivers and teams.

  6. And that is exactly how it is, the sprint race provides nothing more than a extra start, which under current technical regs, is the most and often the only exciting part of a race.

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