Max Verstappen repeats threat to quit F1 in Azerbaijan

Baku plays host to a brand new sprint race format, which has caused irritation with some drivers, including Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen has continued his criticism of the new Formula 1 sprint race format at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, believing that there is too much risk around the circuit.

The two-time world champion believes that the choice of Baku for the new sprint race format will not have the desired effect of exciting fans, with drivers likely to drive cautiously on the Saturday to protect their chance in the Grand Prix.

“If you’re outside the points, you’ll try to finish in the top eight,” the Red Bull Racing driver said. 

“But for the drivers further up the field it won’t make much of a difference.

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“The risk of damaging the car in an accident is too great, which could compromise Sunday’s race.

“So do we really need this? Baku already produces chaotic races.

“No, I’m sticking to it. If you’re in the top three places in the sprint, you’ll bring the points home,” he added.

The Dutchman has been vocal over the extended April break about his concerns that Formula 1 is moving from a sport to a show, pushing him away from the sport.

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With Verstappen’s contract expiring in 2028, the 25-year-old’s future after that remains uncertain, as he floats the possibility of pursuing other passions.

“I love the sport and I also love winning races, and of course I lead a nice life. But there’s always a point in your career when you want to do something new in your life,” he said.

“I’m under contract until the end of 2028. If it’s getting to be too much for me, then it’s probably time for a change.

“You have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask – am I still motivated? Of course I am today, but I’m sure at some point I’ll feel like doing something different.”

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Baku looks set to be the first race weekend where Verstappen’s dominance is truly tested after the Dutchman lost out on pole by 0.19 of a second.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will start the race on Sunday from P1, marking a comeback for the Italian team that has struggled in recent weeks.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz complete the top four, while Mercedes sits behind in P5, hoping to capitalise on any mistakes at the front of the grid.