Max Verstappen worried about Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Max Verstappen has threatened to leave F1 should changes continue to be made to the sport's format.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen will likely be wanting to get through next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix as quickly as possible, with the Baku City Circuit set to host the first sprint race of the 2023 F1 season.

This year will see six events host sprint races, with it yet to be decided whether a new sprint format will be trialled in Baku.

Under the current sprint format, FP1 and qualifying for the sprint take place on Friday, FP2 and the sprint race take place on Saturday, with the traditional race on the Sunday.

Under the proposed new format, FP1 and qualifying for the main race will take place on Friday, another qualifying session to determine the grid for the sprint race and then the sprint race itself will take place on Saturday, with the main race on Sunday.

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Verstappen is massively against the sprint concept and has been ever since it was initially discussed, with the 25-year-old very much preferring the sport’s traditional format.

He’ll likely be even more unhappy should the new sprint format be introduced, especially at a circuit notoriously known for its difficulty.

Williams team principal James Vowles has even admitted that “chaos” will unfold in Azerbaijan, something Verstappen will be eager to avoid.

“Regardless of whether the rules change or not, a sprint race weekend on that tight, twisty circuit where you go through the section near the castle is going to cause some chaos,” Vowles said.

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“It will be a sprint race weekend, possibly with minor changes to the rules that we had before. That work is now going on in the background to see how we should restructure that race weekend and what the consequences are for everyone.”

F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali has been continually pushing for the F1 format to be changed, with the Italian wanting to see the drivers have as little practice time as possible.

The proposed changes to the sprint format would therefore massively work in Domenicali’s favour; however, Verstappen has threatened to leave F1 should the format continue to be changed.

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“I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long,” Verstappen said.

“I am not a fan of it at all. When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races. But it is not the right way to go about it… And even if you change the format, I don’t find that is in the DNA of Formula One to do these kind of sprint races.

“F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying and have an amazing Sunday over a long race distance. That is the DNA of the sport and I don’t understand why we need to change that.”