Max Verstappen: F1 Should Scrap ‘Artificial Excitement’ Sprint Races

f1 grand prix of azerbaijan sprint
Max Verstappen Wants F1 To Scrap Sprint RacesDan Mullan - Formula 1 - Getty Images

Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen has labelled Sprint races as “artificial excitement” and believes the format should be scrapped.

Formula 1 introduced Sprint races in 2021 at three races, where a mini race takes place on Saturday, prior to Sunday’s main race, with qualifying shifted to Friday.

The format has been expanded and remodeled for 2023.

The Sprint’s presence has been doubled from three to six races and a separate qualifying session created to split the Sprint into a self-contained Saturday.

Friday’s usual qualifying session sets the grid for Sunday’s race, while a condensed version of the usual qualifying session – known as the Sprint Shootout – is held on Saturday, and sets the grid for the Sprint race.


The first of the six Sprint races took place at Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit on Saturday.

Verstappen, who was third in the Sprint race and has previously been negative about the mini-races, presented a withering perspective.

“I think it’s just… it’s not proper racing, more gambling, I think I’ll have more success in Vegas if I go to the casino,” he said. “I like racing, I’m a pure racer, I think this is more for the show and of course it is important to have entertainment, but I think if all the cars are closer you create anyway better entertainment than trying to do it like this.

“It feels like you have a football match and it’s 3-0 for one team and then suddenly you just say let’s reset it to 0-0 and go again. I find it a bit unnecessary these kinds of things.”

Speaking further on what he’d like to change, Verstappen said: “Yeah, just scrap the whole thing. I think it’s just important to go back to what we had and make sure every team can fight for the win, that’s what we have to try and aim for [rather than] implement these kinds of artificial excitement I would say.

“I got bored through today’s qualifying to be honest. I like to have one particular qualifying where you put everything in it and that was yesterday, which I of course enjoyed. Then you have to do it again today like ‘my god, another qualifying’, I just don’t really enjoy that.”

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who won the Sprint race, explained that “I’m happy if we have three-four races like this” but added that “we don’t want this to be a standard weekend; what we have normally is exciting and makes it better for fans – it’s what we’ve grown up with and it’s how it should stay.”

Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for Sunday’s race and the Sprint Shootout before finishing runner-up to Perez in the Sprint race.

auto prix f1 aze sprint race
Versappen finished third in Saturday’s Sprint. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA - Getty Images

“I don’t hate this format, I think it’s a better format than last year’s Sprint format,” said Leclerc.

“I wouldn’t want this to be the standard in the future, I think it’s fine three-four races like this in a year.”

World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso also expressed their view.

“I like that we're trying something new with this format,” said Hamilton. “The extra qualifying session was fun. The sprint race was less exciting but that's probably because I was struggling.”

Added Alonso: “I think it’s okay. Obviously, I like the idea to have less practice and the fans for sure will like to see more action. The only open point for me, I felt this morning the qualifying was, I don’t know, a little bit repetitive of what we had yesterday.”

There were also gripes at the wait between the conclusion of Sprint Shootout and the Sprint race itself, which was around four hours. An anomaly within the regulations was also queried (which should be tidied up for future Sprints), which meant Lando Norris could not run in SQ3 as he had no new Soft tires available.

Sprints will be held again this year in Austria, Belgium, Qatar, Austin, and São Paulo.