‘Not really a race’: Max Verstappen’s blunt verdict on controversial races

Sprint races were introduced in 2021 at a handful of circuits.

Sprint races have divided opinion since their introduction in 2021, with them either tending to be action packed or completely uninteresting.

Replacing one of the practice sessions, sprint races see drivers race 100km after qualifying to determine the final grid positions for Sunday’s race, without any mandatory pit stops.

In 2021 the sprint races were trialled at Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos to mixed reviews, with some fans hoping they would not return in 2022.

This year there has already been the sprint race weekend format in Imola and at the Red Bull Ring, and ahead of the third and final sprint of the season this weekend in Brazil, Max Verstappen is still not sold on the new format.

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“You do another start, which is exiting, but it’s only really people who are out of position that move forward because you only put a tyre on that just lasts a whole stint and not much happens,” he explained when asked for his opinions on the new races. 

“I don’t understand what the problem is for that because we’ve had so many exciting races, so you don’t need to add one-third of a race distance.”

Drivers do pick up a small amount of points based on their finishing positions, but Verstappen claims that those further up the grid would rather secure their qualifying positions than push for points and risk an incident that causes them to drop to the back.

“For me, that’s not really a race, because you go into the main race and you know there are way more points available anyway, you just risk it a bit more there,” he argued.

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“Everyone is so careful anyway because if you are fighting for third and you have a little touch and you drop to last, you know your Sunday is going to be tough.

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“Probably you won’t risk it, so that’s not really a race.”

As the Dutchman suggested, the previous sprint races have provided an opportunity for those who may have made a mistake in qualifying to climb back up the order into a better grid position for the race.

But because the lack of pit stops removes any element of strategy, it mostly comes down to the power of the car, with the faster cars simply just charging past the slower ones for a better start on Sunday.

Whatever the drivers may think of F1’s newest introduction, sprint races are here to stay with the total of weekends with them confirmed to be doubling to six in 2023.