Stefano Domenicali fires back at Max Verstappen threat

The second of six sprint weekends this season will take place at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Formula 1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali has criticised some of sport’s current drivers for being “selfish”, with the Italian stressing that everybody involved in the pinnacle of motorsport needs to be open to change.

Domenicali has pushed over recent years for the traditional F1 weekend format to be adjusted, with him having overseen the introduction of sprint races.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was also set to see a new qualifying format, where drivers would be forced to use the Hard compound in Q1, the Medium in Q2 and the Soft compound in Q3.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen is one of a few drivers who have criticised the sport for pushing for more sprint races and for changing the sport’s usual format, with many wanting things to remain how they’ve been for well over a decade.

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With the sport’s audience having changed considerably since the introduction of Netflix docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’, Domenicali has admitted that the sport has to offer fans “value” for their money, with F1’s bosses seemingly believing that the best way to do that is by making the racing more entertaining.

Domenicali believes some of the drivers need to get used to being outside their “comfort zone”, whilst he’s also stated that he’s not going to introduce a sprint race at every Grand Prix.

“I don’t want a society in which people cannot say what they want,” Domenicali admitted to The Daily Mail.

“But drivers sometimes need to remember that they are part of a broader picture. We don’t need to be selfish.

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“They are part of this sport and this business, and it grows because we are thinking bigger.

“Sometimes being out of our comfort zone is not easy, but we cannot get lazy or complacent – we can review some of the specifics of the sprint weekend format at the end of the season once we have tried it out on the intended six occasions.

“We won’t have sprints every weekend, either.

“But we have a new audience and need to provide value for money [in] every session, and not let everyone drive around in circles for the sole benefit of the engineers and drivers.”

Verstappen has been the biggest critic of the sprint race format and has openly told the media that should the format continue to be tweaked, then he will simply retire from the sport.

This season will see six sprint races in total, whilst the calendar is also continuing to increase.

The latter is something else the Dutchman has hit out on; however, Domenicali insists that there is “not a problem” with the two-time World Champion.

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“I discussed the issues with Max [before the Miami Grand Prix],” Domenicali said.

“He said he loved the sport and what he was doing.

“He is the World Champion and is fighting for a third title – he was born in a car and I would say he is likely to stay longer [in F1] than me. It’s not a problem.”