Three-time world champion, Max Verstappen has already condemned sprint races on several occasions in his career: the Dutchman said that teams don’t take risks and that not everything in the category needs to “revolve around money”, among other criticisms. This Thursday, in a press conference prior to the track activities in Interlagos, the RBR driver reacted ironically when asked about the subject:
– Absolutely fantastic. Super funny. I’m very excited that we have another one – said Verstappen.
Much of the praise revolves around the fact that, on sprint race weekends, the F1 schedule changes. Instead of three free practice sessions, the category holds a single test session on Friday, before qualifying for three segments for Sunday’s GP. On Saturday, there is qualifying for the sprint race and, subsequently, the 100 km race.
– Saturday is not the best of days, but I like the single training session before qualifying. I think we can learn. I love that we have a different format instead of the same three practices, qualifying and the race. The best sprint I’ve ever had was when I started last (São Paulo 2021), so I’m in favor of the reverse order. But then everyone will try to rank last (laughs). I think maybe it has to be a little longer, because the sprint today is 19 laps or something like that – suggested Lewis Hamilton.
– I don’t think we should do more than six sprint weekends a year, I think (doing) six is fine. But having just one training session and then going straight to qualifying is something I like – said Charles Leclerc.
What the drivers said about the sprint:
Daniel Ricciardo (AlphaTauri), at ge: “In Austin, which was my first race in a while, I would have preferred a conventional format, just to have more time to get the car right. It’s a car I’ve only done four races in, so I don’t know everything about it yet. (…) I think, in general, a conventional weekend is more… I prefer it, but I like racing. So on sprint weekends, seeing the lights go out twice, it’s fun. Probably I’m conventional, but I’d say two training sessions are enough. I don’t think we need a third, so maybe one training on Friday, one on Saturday morning. Something like that. I don’t know. What do you think?”
Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo): “I always like the sprint. I’ve never been a big fan of three training sessions. I’d rather we have one and then get straight into the action, so that’s the cool thing about a sprint weekend. Obviously, there are things we can change. For us as a team, at the moment, unfortunately only the top eight score in the sprint, so most of the time it’s a long shot. Besides, I’m more than happy to do a sprint.”
Carlos Sainz (Ferrari): “I agree that six (sprints) are enough, and that Saturday is too revealing about what will happen on Sunday. What you see on TV is basically the first stint of Sunday’s race, and that doesn’t help the spectacle that is the GP. Then you get to the point where you might as well try something different on Saturday. Would this be a reverse grid? Single lap classification? Anything, I don’t know. But I think, given the fact that the sprint format is a bit of an experiment going on in F1, I would be open to testing it to see which one is best. Only Saturday doesn’t feel completely right for what happens on Sunday.”
Logan Sargeant (Williams): “It’s not my favorite. As a freshman, it’s nice to have three training sessions. But above that, I feel like Saturday is an independent day that doesn’t offer much, as Valtteri said, if you’re not in the top eight. So I prefer a normal weekend.”
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): “I really like it. I like the fact that there’s only one free training session. I don’t think we should do more than six sprint weekends a year, I think (doing) six is fine. But having just one training session and then going straight “Qualifying is something I like. I think Saturday could be modified and improved, but I really like Friday. Having three free practices is quite long and can sometimes get a bit tedious. We always do the same program.”
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin): “I don’t mind them. I think it’s refreshing that every time you get in the car there’s something to fight for. And it’s also more action for those watching at home. After the sprint in Austin (USA), going to Mexico and having a normal weekend, I felt like there was a lot of training. Friday was a long day. (…) I think (the sprint) spices things up and makes everything interesting for those watching.”
Lando Norris (McLaren): “I’m in the middle. I’ve always liked the normal weekend, to be honest. So if I had my choice, I’d do that again. But it’s for the fans, doing a bigger show and stuff like that. I like the challenge of just one training and qualifying, I think it’s better. For me, it’s more enjoyable, a bigger challenge for the engineers and us drivers. If we just had FP1 and qualifying and then the race, on Saturday and Sunday, it would be cool. Two days. I think that’s the only thing (I would change), but it’s not my choice.”