Max Verstappen has claimed that the constant changes to the race weekend format could lead to him leaving Formula 1.
In 2021, the FIA tweaked the format by introducing sprint races. This year, they have doubled the number of sprint races to six. Now, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has expressed his desire to see a reduction in the number of practice sessions to increase the number of competitive sessions.
For the six sprint races on the F1 calendar, the sport's management is reportedly considering adding a second qualifying session specifically to decide the grid for the sprint.
This could mean Friday’s qualifying, with its traditional Q1, Q2, and Q3 format, will decide the grid for the main event on Sunday. The second session could be a one-shot qualifying event, with all drivers given one lap to set their best times.
Verstappen, however, isn't too keen on the changes. He told Portuguese channel Sport TV:
“I’m happy with just the main race. I think that’s way better for the excitement. I naturally, of course, hope that there won’t be too many changes otherwise I won’t be around for too long.”
The Dutchman has never been a fan of sprint races in general. At the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix last year, he expressed his dislike for the format, saying:
“I’m not a fan of the sprint. It is what it is. Some like it, some don’t.”
The proposed changes to sprint races could be implemented for the Azerbaijan GP this year, though Red Bull team principal Christian Horner isn't too happy that the Baku City Circuit will host the first sprint race of 2023.
Speaking at an FIA press conference in Australia, Horner said:
“The reality is it’s absolutely ludicrous to be doing the first sprint race of the year in a street race like Azerbaijan. I think from a spectacle point of view, from a fan point of view, it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting sprint races of the year. From a cost cap perspective, all you can do is trash your car and it costs a lot of money around there.”
Max Verstappen warns FIA not to ‘change the entire DNA’ of F1
After F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated that he was not a fan of free practice sessions and hinted at abolishing them altogether, Max Verstappen has warned the FIA against making any changes to Formula 1 that would alter "the DNA" of the sport.
He said (via Motorsport Italy):
“I'm not a fan of changing the whole format [without practice sessions]. They have to be careful not to change the entire DNA of Formula 1. I think it's important not to play too much with this aspect, because then, obviously, at a certain point everything stops.”