Verstappen “won’t be around too long” if F1 keeps changing race weekend format

2023 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen says Formula 1’s experiments with changes to its race weekend format could lead him to leave the sport.

The series introduced a sprint race format two years ago which will form a larger part of this year’s world championship. Six of the 23 rounds will include sprint races, up from three last year.

F1 is considering changes to the sprint format which could come into play as early as the first sprint weekend of the season in Baku in four weeks’ time. Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner said today the sport is considering holding a dedicated qualifying session for the sprint race.

This comes as F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali reiterated his desire to reduce the amount of practice which takes place at grand prix weekends and increase the number of competitive sessions. However Verstappen made it clear he prefers the traditional grand prix weekend format.

“I’m happy with just the main race,” he told Portuguese television channel Sport TV. “I think that’s way better for the excitement.”

Feature: Is there a ‘sprint’ format which can satisfy both the purists and the bean-counters?
“I naturally, of course, hope that there won’t be too many changes otherwise I won’t be around for too long,” Verstappen added.

The two-times world champion has long been a critic of the sprint race format. “I’m not a fan of the sprint,” he said last year. “It is what it is. Some like it, some don’t.”

Verstappen signed a contract extension with Red Bull ahead of last season which runs to the 2028 season.

While F1 is known to be evaluating changes to its sprint format, no final decision has yet been taken. Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner said today F1 needs to “tidy up the format for the sprint races coming up” to make them “a bit more dynamic.”

“I know that the sporting director has been working hard on that and hopefully we can get that finalised.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Australian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

76 comments on “Verstappen “won’t be around too long” if F1 keeps changing race weekend format”

  1. Good lad.

    1. See you later Max

    2. He’ll be around as long as his dad is making so much money off of him.

      1. Itsmeagain (@)
        31st March 2023, 23:31

        …and that’s the level here

  2. I think we should change the format every week. The best drivers should be able to adapt and it’d be a hell of a lot more interesting than what we have now.

    1. If the format of the weekend is what makes it interesting or not, then there’s a bigger problem.

      1 race per weekend is perfect. But if they insist on coming up with new things, I much prefer they stick to one format the whole year and get on with it. That way it’s fair for everyone, as it should be.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        31st March 2023, 14:53

        If changes were made every weekend it would still be the same for everyone. What is fair though? Fair is knowing in advance what will occur to give the teams chance to evaluate what they need to do.

        1. @andyfromsandy not really. Having different possible points tallies in itself is not fair. Plus a car might be better suited for certain tracks where there are more points on offer.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      31st March 2023, 15:13

      Sure the same logic would apply to every sport? The best footballers in the world should be able to deal with different rules applied every week – one week they can only use their hands, the next week they use a tennis ball instead of a football, the next week there are no goals but you score 3 points if you can juggle the ball 10 times with your head…..

    3. I don’t get it, that you even follow this sport, if you don’t like what it is. It’s always been without “sprints”, competitive practise sessions etc. I don’t say that the best argument is to never change anything, but if some people in minority don’t like the sport, maybe they should make a new one instead of taking F1 away from the rest of us. I’m not talking about you of course, but the likes of Domenicali.

      1. This is simply Max’ way of negotiating. I get it, F1 is becoming overly complicated in too many low-value ways. Do the fans really love sprints? Really? Why do these even exist? Some say its to satisfy the diehards trudging out to places like Spa Francorchamps in the event that there’s a weather-related cancellation of the GP…others claim more racing is more fun. A GP is a GP. Just leave it alone. Enough with the side shows! There’s plenty of action and anticipation, and yes, F1 needs the build-up to the actual GP event. Keep the main thing the main thing!

    4. Just have ChatGPT randomly come up with next weeks format. No months in advance warning like the tires.

  3. Stefano wasn’t the right guy for Ferrari and hell isn’t the right guy for leading F1. Could be these ideas coming from Liberty media through Stefano to test the tides but they have been quite greedy.

    1. It’s obvious he speaks for Liberty now

  4. It’s all part of the plan. Domenicali’s trying to get rid of him.

  5. I can’t help it thinking that Christian Horner and Max Verstappen must have had some hefty discussions after that Sergio Perez incident last year.

    Max Verstappen is level headed guy, but if things do not go his way he can get pretty frustrated or become disillusioned.
    Financially the guy is independend and I predict an early F1 exit with focus on a more relaxed life, time for his family and driving 24 Hour races in the future.

    1. Im not sure what incident with Checo you are talking about, but I agree with the point that he could leave F1 early. He has proven that he is by far the best driver in F1 of the last decade and has reached his goal of becoming a WDC. He doesnt care how many more times he gets the title, he doesnt care about the numbers so much, he jus loves racing. Like you said I also see him leaving the sport if he doesnt get challenged soon. Just cruising in front alone without challenge is not intersting for someone as competitive as him. I see him leaving for other series if things doesnt change

  6. I hope the guys at Liberty won’t be bothered by Verstappen’s criticism since they encourage drivers to speak their minds. Free speech, first amendment…

    1. First amendment only applies to the relationship between a citizen of the US and the government. A private business can limit speech as and when they choose. I know you aren’t addressing this, but it gets old seeing people who don’t seem to have even a basic understanding of the US Constitution repeat this nonsense.

  7. F1 adopted the 308 km. race format a while ago and it works. It’s the right combo of speed and endurance.

    Sprint races are pointless, particularly since pit stop strategy became a major factor. Plus the fact teams are already managing engines to race the full season without amassing too many penalties.
    Let’s keep the 3 practices, qualy and single race format.

    1. I agree. I think the current weekend format is the way it should stay, plus abandon the sprint races which are always terrible.

    2. I also agree, and would add that an expanding season with shrinking team budgets is yet another major factor.
      Plus the fact that if you can’t travel to the races (covid made it difficult, and the expense — ticket plus travel — is now is getting prohibitive, so I doubt I’ll go to more than a couple or three) and rely on TV schedules to watch as much as you can — a bit of practice, quali, race and now sprint — it eats way too far into 20+ weekends a year. The money grubbing, worldwide wrestling approach will kill the sport and I’m fairly sure Verstappen isn’t the only driver to consider a different approach to motor racing.

  8. I much rather have a consistent format too and in my opinion too much action on a Friday is just unfair to those working those hours.

    Now, however, if you MUST do some form of competition on a Friday, I suggest you separate it entirely from the main action. You do a FP1, after which you give all drivers a single qualifying lap, on their tyre of choice, but they must start the subsequent sprint race on that tyre too. That gives some interesting option, like do you go for a quick quali on softs but risk dropping back during the sprint, or do you go for harder tyres that can take a bit more of a beating but start further back? It also rewards the drivers who manage to get as close to the limit as possible the quickest.

    I’d put the sprint race on the Friday evening. It could double as a sort of race-sim in terms of practice for the Grand Prix on Sunday. Parc fermé is something I would instate two hours after finishing the sprint race, and up to two hours before starting FP2 on Saturday, during which teams can prepare for the full on qualification, which decides the grid for the GP, and the Grand Prix on Sunday. This gives the teams that got it all wrong on the Friday a change to recover, while giving the team personnel some rest in the weekend too. After the full qualification things go ahead as they normally do.

    In terms of points I would award 1/3rd of the points of a full GP for the sprint race, as it’s 1/3rd race distance. Probably 1st. 9 points, 2nd. 6 points, 3rd. 5 points, 4th. 4 points, 5th. 3 points, 6th. 2 points. 7th. 1 point and that’s it. You could perhaps elect a sprint champion for the drivers and constructors at the end of the season too, although I doubt it would be any different from the eventual champions in both championships.

    I would also only use this format during races where the crowd attendance is large, and the venue is dependent on ticket sales for the finances. COTA, Silverstone, Albert Park, Spa come to mind. What is good about doing it this way, is that the Friday is packed with action, actually even more than the Saturday I’d say, but the whole sprint thing is kept separate from the rest of the weekend and it does not severely impede teams that encounter problems in FP1. This way promoters get their competitive Friday, fans can choose to watch whatever they want, and teams are not forced to run their weekends too differently from what they usually do.

    Anyway I had to get this off my chest. I’m fine with the classic weekend format as it is and I would really love less places on the calendar where some would be mistreated, imprisoned or executed for being who they are. But if one must have a format change for more action on some weekends, this is how I would do it.

  9. Verstappen doesn’t get to decide what the most exciting format is, the fans do. The fans, consciously or not, are voting with their viewing time. Liberty doesn’t care about some grumpy columnist in a print magazine saying there were no Sprints Qualifyings back in the 1960s or a driver repeating his team’s talking points (Horner really doesn’t like the Baku Sprint Qualifying it seems). That’s all irrelevant. If millions of people tune in, there’ll be more Sprint Qualifying.

    And if Verstappen does decide he doesn’t like F1, no big deal. There’ll be another star driver – even if just by default – and within a few races nobody will talk about Verstappen anymore. Just like nobody talks about Vettel or Rosberg these days.

    1. I’d say they are trying to appeal to viewers rather than fans.

    2. True, you can replace Verstappen (although not with an equally good driver, not for the moment). But I say it’s easier to replace a fan than a driver. I mean, if the champ’s opinion is irrelevant and he should be fired for having it, then why do you get to have an opinion… Or me… We’re just watching and talking, while the drivers ARE F1. Yeah, we can disagree as we often do, but who are you to speak for all the fans, or to shush a driver talking about what is his job. Yeah, fans are important, but I’m pretty sure that most fans agree with him about this. Even if not, Verstappen, Hamilton, Alonso, everyone including rookies have the right to have an opinion and go public about it, and no, you can’t replace a great driver so easily. He just doesn’t want to repeat the same races. Who needs that can always watch a replay, instead of forcing them to race twice or thrice…

      1. Verstappen should definitely not be fired from Red Bull; I’m sure they share his sentiments. The people who are winning rarely want change, and that’s fair enough. They should make their case, but that’s ultimately not going to be what Liberty cares too much about. Red Bull isn’t going to give up on this marketing platform because they don’t like Sprint Qualifying. Especially not if that new weekend format brings in more viewers.

        Some of the issue with multiple races can be overcome if F1 wants to. But building F1 cars for 305km GPs, and then using those same cars for very different races does tend to become a bit silly. That’s not what they’re made for, and neither are the tyres. So the result is predictably a bit awkward. Add in the cost cap and the lack of rewards and the Sprint Qualifying sessions become pretty boring affairs. But the idea to have more competitive sessions is, in itself, not so bad. The problem is that those sessions end up not being very competitive (because of the cars).

        @oweng It’s a fair distinction to make, but so long as people watch it’s not really a concern for Liberty whether they’re doing so for the 2nd year or the 20th.

    3. But it’s not the fans making the decision on race weekends. Brawn or Domenicali come up with some crazy idea, no one likes, but the powers that be can’t admit they made a mistake, so they ignore the vast majority of the fans who hate it, and focus on the 2 to 3 percent they can find who do.

    4. I will not boycott watching sprint races because they have championship implications and I don’t want to miss that. I watch the sprint races because I love F1. But I absolutely detest the format and would prefer the classic 3 practices, qualy on Saturday, and race on Sunday. I would dislike sprint races anyway, but knowing that it’s simply a cash grab and a pander to casuals makes it even worse.

    5. Do you work for Liberty? Focusing on quantity over quality is exactly something they would do )-8 So sad that mere numbers are considered success.

  10. Max has said he doesn’t care about breaking records or racking up WDCs in the past and been pretty consistent with his messaging, so I don’t envision him having a Hamilton or Alonso-length career if he starts to detest the format. It’s difficult to infer exactly how passionate he is about endurance racing versus F1, but the WEC is in increasingly good shape, and I guess isn’t an unattractive proposition.

    1. Maybe he is already trying to convice Red Bull to join WEC Hypercar category. Then he could fulfill his contract till 2028 but in WEC from 2026.

    2. Your interpretation of Verstappen seems highly flawed and just bizarre. Maybe that narrative suits your high level fanatic of his.

      1. Itsmeagain (@)
        31st March 2023, 19:10

        What’s bizarre about that? Narrative? Yes the narrative if you read interviews with him

        1. Nothing is bizarre. kpcart is projecting.

    3. F1 cars are the fastest cars. I’ve always assumed that any driver would want to drive the fastest cars unless they can’t be competitive.

      1. You need to qualify “the worlds fastest car” by saying the worlds fastest roundy round circuit car. The worlds fastest cars are top fuel dragsters that can do, from a standing start, 1000ft in 3.7 seconds at 336 mph (540kmh). Not to mention world speed record setting cars at faster then the speed of sound.

        Be interesting to see a F1 car at Bonneville to stretch the legs and just how fast they could go over the flying mile. Challenge for Red Bull and Danny Ric?

          1. Cheers for the link to that fascinating story. Be a good Red Bull goal to achieve 400kmh.

    4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      31st March 2023, 16:24

      And yet he doesn’t seem to take a philosophical view when things aren’t going his way. If he isn’t looking out for records he wouldn’t be concerned about the 1 point fastest lap.

      1. You clearly do not understand highly competitive people. It’s not about records, it’s about winning.

      2. Itsmeagain (@)
        31st March 2023, 19:14

        Can you image drivers who are less than eager to get that 8th WCS? There are, and Max is one of them. Had one goal and that is becoming Worldchampion.

    5. Coventry Climax
      31st March 2023, 19:19

      Didn’t WEC ditch their most advanced car for something with a fancy name that does not live up to it; the Hyper Car? It is, after all, and by all metrics, lesser than the previous LMP1.

      1. Yes they did, but the LMP1 cars were both too expensive and too fast (primarily for Le Mans, which is a Grade 2 circuit and the FIA and ACO were not pleased with the 3:14 laptimes).

        Although the MGU-H/MGU-K combination is pretty clever, one could argue F1 cars of the early 1990s were more advanced than today’s F1 cars too – and that’s over 30 years ago. They had active suspensions, traction control, automated gearshifts, launch control, ABS, and more.

        Technology in motorsport is a bit of a red herring. Series will pick one or two areas that their participants want to market, and that’s what they build the regulations around while keeping other avenues of development closed off so as to prevent the cars from becoming too fast.

  11. With the format changes, addition of that Fake Miami crap and the outrageous Los Wages prices and circuit F1 is moving ever closer to WWE.

    1. Absolutely. and the synthetic atmosphere from the events held at these recently added tracks and “street circuits” has changed the mood of the events. Compare saudi or bahrain with silverstone, spa, or even hockenehim. The weekends racing at the latter venues feel all about racing, not about the silly marketing or propaganda gimmicks.

  12. I would leave the three day race format just the way it is just reduce the amount of practice time for example one 90 minute session on Friday and one half hour session before qualifying.

    1. Coventry Climax
      31st March 2023, 19:04

      Why? Why reduce the practice time? What other sports does that?
      Just because some nitwit came up with the ‘idea’ and now we have to find a ‘compromise’?
      You don’t normally argue or negotiate with nitwits at all in the first place.

  13. Leave then lol. You are never better than the sport that is your salary.

  14. David Collitt
    31st March 2023, 16:35

    Good shut the door behind you

  15. Gatekeeping won’t work. Young viewers want more racing and that’s what Liberty will end up giving them. As for Max, Formula 1 survived to all its Champions.

    1. I am genuinely interested where this seemingly infinite decreasing attention span for each following generation comes from. Sounds like every parent to kid argument. Business universities also teach this and use it as an implied way to keep marketing snappy/short/call-to-action, but it’s like feeding an addict more drugs because they’ll get down and angry without it.

      At some point people need to understand that a longer attention span, waiting for action, and buildup to reward are so much more gratifying. The brain is literally becoming numb by micro-dosing dopamine and oxytocine for “fluff”.

      Why change a good product for a target audience that will jump to another “high” when they cannot see or understand the nuance and developments which make F1 a unique platform?

  16. The Dolphins
    31st March 2023, 18:08

    Sounds like Christian is whispering in his ear.
    Max has benefited the most from the Sprint format in terms of points earned so it’s not all bad.

  17. As a longtime F1 fan I agree with Max. Don’t adapt to the attentionspan of new Netflixfans. Race on merit. When I am old it is time for bingo-nights, probably not.

    1. Do you think Max will enjoy getting paid 50+ million every season. That’s what adapting to Netflix fans is going to do for him. Why do you think he ended his boycott.

  18. Formats change,
    Drivers come and go,
    The world still turns.

  19. Coventry Climax
    31st March 2023, 18:55

    Some say it is the same for each driver or team, but it is not:
    Cars were developed with a certain set of rules in mind.
    If the FIA changes the format constantly and at will for weekends during the season, they thereby give themselves the option to manipulate the season, as they very well know which cars are better suited to certain circuits.
    Apart from the FIA already changing the rules constantly at the very last moment anyhow (with car development long underway already), or even during the season, with their ‘technical directives’ (which is nothing but a fancy name for saying ‘we were sloppy in our rules wording again, but this is what we actually meant, hopefully.’) manipulating the season as it develops is the textbook definition of unfairness – even if for all teams, it’s the same FIA that messes with the format.

    I’m no particular fan of Verstappen (or any other driver), but you got to give him this; he speaks his mind and is quite straightforward about how he feels and the direction the FIA is taking F1.

    I wish more drivers would say that they might easily leave the sport if this unbridled desire to constantly change things continues. I’m convinced more drivers feel this way, but don’t dare speak their minds.

    1. Your opinion is yours, and that’s fine, but where was Max when rules were changed in the middle of a race to benefit him and give him the WDC? Where was he daring to speak his mind and say that a random change was not on the level?

      Max sounds petulant here, nothing more. If he actually laid out what he doesn’t like, why he doesn’t like it, what is wrong with it, and some possible options that he thinks might work—THAT would be impressive and useful. And not just from Max, from all of the drivers.

      As it is, Max threatens to take his ball and go home because he doesn’t care for something. Color me unimpressed.

      1. Coventry Climax
        31st March 2023, 23:23

        First of all, hobo (alt), you ignore the first paragraph of my comment. Apparently, you have no opinion at all there, but that’s fine too.
        Secondly, you sort of accuse me of being in favor of Verstappen, which I clearly said I’m indifferent to, like I’m indifferent to most drivers. (I’m never ‘for’ a driver, but I can be ‘against’, like against those that are clearly there only because they bring the money, not the talent. Seems to me, your aversion to Verstappen blinds you to what really is the point here; the FIA constantly changing the rules.
        Not that I really care about this fixation, but no, it’s not ‘fine’.

        1. I’m doing nothing of the sort (accusing you of x or y).

          I simply said that Max saying “if they keep messing with this, I’m leaving,” is not impressive to me in the least. Had he constructively laid out an argument (perhaps like the one you did in your first paragraphs, perhaps different) THAT would have been worth notice, imo. Just saying what is in his head is borderline meathead behavior. Actually making an argument as to why he feels that way would have maybe moved the needle.

          I’m not anti-Max. I’m not anti-you. Just wasn’t impressed with what he said or the idea that he deserves some credit for it.

  20. Neil (@neilosjames)
    31st March 2023, 20:04

    As someone who also appreciates ‘just the grand prix’, I like this… not because I want Verstappen to leave (very much don’t – as a fan I want the most talented drivers around for as they’re competitive) but because he’s come out and said it, in public. Maybe most importantly, because I believe him and I think Liberty will as well. I could very much imagine Verstappen walking away to fully compete in other forms of racing while still in his prime.

    I think a lot of people – probably me included – watch F1 because it’s F1, not because it’s the best and most exciting form of motor racing. And it’s F1 because it has brilliantly marketable assets with either extremely powerful historic importance (eg Monaco, Ferrari, the name ‘F1’) or global recognition and fanbases (Ferrari again, some drivers). But on the driver side it only has three truly big, ‘titles to prove it’ names (Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso). Two of them will be gone in a few years so mid-term F1 will only have one big name, star driver… and unless someone like Leclerc, Russell or Norris shuffles their way into the elite and wins a championship or two it’ll still only have one big name driver in 2027, 2028, 2029. And if Verstappen heads off long before the normal F1 retirement age, it’ll have none.

    And that was a roundabout way of saying that they need Verstappen to not want to go away any time in the foreseeable future, so him hinting that he might leave if they keep messing probably has more weight than a petition signed by half a million fans. Can’t see it making much difference, but still…

  21. some racing fan
    31st March 2023, 20:05

    I think everyone is taking this too seriously. Max will be around until at least 2035. He ain’t going anywhere.

    1. I’m not so sure though. There are plenty of people in and around the paddoc whose words are worth less than the air they exhale saying it. If Verstappen has one trait it’s that he doesn’t mince his words and he stands by what he says. One can disagree with what he says and many do, but still… He is stubborn enough not to let Perez back past and declares for everyone to hear he told everyone his reasons and he stands by it. He would have know he would be called out for this d1kc move (rightfully so) but at least it proves he does what he said. And there is the fact he has before stated he is not interested in a WC record, that he will only stay as long as he feels like it and also stated he is not interested in a long Hamilton/Alonso career in F1… I think I believe him. He will leave if he doesn’t like it anymore. Some are slagging him off for it, but I think it is nice to have someone outspoken who sticks to his values. You can disagree with his values, but that is something else

      1. Right, he’s going to retire from a gig that makes him one of the highest paid athletes on the planet because they keep changing qualifying. Yep, that sounds reasonable.

        1. Coventry Climax
          31st March 2023, 23:30

          Just because you can’t imagine it, doesn’t mean it can’t, doesn’t or won’t happen.
          How’s your knowledge of Einstein’s Relativity Theory again?

    2. To put it short: I’d rather disagree with Verstappen than read corporate guff from Russell

  22. Andre Furtado
    31st March 2023, 20:49

    What I want to see is the sprint race be a drivers rotating through all the teams. So every sprint race has a different driver car combination. Let’s see who is the best driver that can adapt to the most cars.

    1. While I think that would be really fun it will never happen. But a spec support series might have a tiny bit more chance, like the procar series. Could ‘add value to the race weekend’ to see them race around in M1’s

  23. What a ludicrous statement. Horner asked Max to back him up and this is what they came up with? Idiotic.

  24. Like most of Max’s quotes, I’m going to assume the one line is missing a bunch of context. Or maybe he got tired of trying to spruce up his image last year and just decided to double down on the petulant man baby vibe because that sure is an absurd thing to say.

  25. Max’ childishness aside, I don’t really like the sprint format either. It dilutes the importance of the main race, and I’ve always thought a race weekend should always be about the race. I don’t even like the point for fastest lap rule.

  26. Winners like to compete to win.
    There’s precious little competition at the moment.
    Constant changes don’t “bunch them up,” they .increase gaps.
    So unless you like cruising around for a decade or so and believing your own publicity, then why not find another class where you are not the best and then try to be.

  27. Please, F1, DO change the Weekend format every week!!!

  28. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
    1st April 2023, 4:11

    He has a point. Keep it simple, keep it steady. Not like the Dutch government does, today ok, tomorrow forbidden. Again and again and again.

  29. There is only way solution to someone who give an ultimatum, that is never give them what they want and let them walk. Even though I think it’s ridiculous to change up the format too often, you cant cave in to any one giving an ultimatum, let them go, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Comments are closed.