OCTOBER 27, 2023

F1 rivals oppose radical sprint race format changes

Two big Formula 1 rivals are united in their disdain for proposals aimed to spice up the controversial 'sprint race' weekend format for 2024.

Podium, United States GP 2023
© Red Bull

US GP organisers in Austin reported that they did not notice the intended popularity of the extra qualifying session and short race in terms of ticket sales.

Max Verstappen is a particular critic of the sprint format.

That (short) race doesn't mean anything to me, said the Dutchman in Mexico.

When I cross the line I think ok, tomorrow is the real race. They can do whatever they want, but I don't find it interesting.

Indeed, because of the negative feedback about the current sprint race format, Formula 1 intends to make quite significant tweaks to it for 2024.

One of the most radical ideas is that a new, separate sprint race championship be created, encouraging drivers to take Saturday's racing more seriously.

But two more proposals are also drastic - reverse grids based on the order of the world championship, and even $1 million in prize money for each sprint winner.

Verstappen doesn't like the idea of any of them.

Why do rules have to be invented again and again to make it more exciting? the triple world champion said in Mexico. "If you have good races, you don't need that. Leave it as it is.

In football, the rules have been the same for 100 years, the Red Bull driver added. "I think our product works if you make sure the cars are competitive and the rules stay the same for a long time. Then the field automatically comes closer together.

If more teams can fight for victory, that will be exciting enough.

And while Red Bull and Mercedes often clash both on and off the track, on this occasion the latter's team boss Toto Wolff fully agrees with Verstappen.

I am conservative in motorsport, said the Mercedes boss. I would rather there be no sprint races than play around with it.

Wolff said he is particularly opposed to the idea of reverse grids.

We'd be moving even more towards the junior formulas where the sport follows the entertainment, where really the entertainment should follow the sport.

Nevertheless, Wolff said the teams should get together with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to think about what is best.