Max Verstappen told to execute his threat with Bernie Ecclestone comparison

The 2023 Formula 1 season has seen the number of sprint races increase to six, with a proposed shake-up to the qualifying format.

Max Verstappen has been told to follow through on his threat to quit Formula 1 after the Dutchman publicly blasted proposed changes to the weekend race format.

With 2021 having seen the introduction of sprint races to the Formula 1 calendar, the number of venues hosting the events has risen to six, with the first kicking off in Azerbaijan this weekend.

Ahead of the Grand Prix in Baku, Formula 1 officials introduced a new format for sprint weekends, altering the manner in which teams qualify.

Starting this year, sprint weekends will feature an extra qualifying session to determine the grid for the Saturday race. 

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While normally there are three hour-long practice sessions, that will be reduced to one for the whole weekend, which has irked the reigning Drivers’ champion.

“I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long. I am not a fan of it at all,” Verstappen claimed. 

“When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races,” he added.

Ralf Schumacher, the brother of Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher, has called on Verstappen to follow through on his threat to the sport’s officials, arguing that it will continue with or without the Dutchman’s presence.

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“The past, the present and the future have shown or will show that Formula 1 is much bigger than any individual,” Schumacher told Sky Germany.

“Bernie Ecclestone is also gone and without him Formula 1 wouldn’t exist – and now it’s more successful than ever. 

“So Verstappen should either pack up and leave or just accept it as it is.

“I understand his attitude because there are a lot of risks [due to the increased number of sprints].”

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Verstappen’s concerns come despite his clear lead in the 2023 Drivers’ Standings and Red Bull’s dominant stance this season. 

Heading into Baku, Verstappen has 69 points, ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez’s 54, Fernando Alonso’s 45, Lewis Hamilton’s 38 and Carlos Sainz’s 20.

Red Bull sits on top of the Constructors’ Standings with 123 points, while it’s closest rival Aston Martin is far behind on 65.