Ex-F1 champion backs Max Verstappen in dispute with top brass

Max Verstappen has threatened to quit the sport should further changes to the format be made.

1978 Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti has supported Max Verstappen’s criticism of the sprint weekend format, with the Dutchman having threatened to quit F1 should the traditional format continue to be changed.

Verstappen has kept it no secret that he’s firmly against the sprint format, with the 25-year-old having spoken against it even before it was initially introduced.

This season will see six sprint races in total, with the first having taken place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

There was a lot of criticism directed at the sport’s bosses as to why they scheduled a sprint race at one of the toughest venues on the calendar, with Verstappen having been one of the drivers to be impacted by an additional race at the challenging street circuit.

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Verstappen was denied victory in the Azerbaijan sprint race after being hit by George Russell on the opening lap, further adding to his reasons why he dislikes the new format.

Should further changes be made to the Grand Prix format, then it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Verstappen leave once his contract expires in 2028, by at which point he’ll be just 31 years old.

Andretti agrees with Verstappen’s view on the sprint format and believes the additional race simply “dilutes the main event”, with the cars being put at an unnecessary risk of further damage.

“Well, I think he has the right to express himself,” Andretti told PlanetF1.com.

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“As far as these qualifying Sprints, they do leave something to be desired for some people. Other people, I suppose, like it. If I was a driver, I would say the qualifying format as we know it is fantastic. I don’t think you need to hype that up anymore.

“Because a huge thing about Formula 1 is the anxiety of the start and, to have another start on a Saturday, I don’t know… it just dilutes the main event, in my opinion. That’s what he’s saying. It puts the equipment at risk and a lot of things. Sometimes you just don’t really go all out because you don’t want to ruin your chances, potentially doing something to hurt the equipment the next day.

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“I guess they’re trying something but I always put myself in the driver’s position. Max just wants to express what he feels about it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

If Andretti was in charge, then Verstappen would seemingly be a very happy driver.

“300%! That’s my feeling,” Andretti said, when asked if he’d keep the normal format.