Skip to content

Formula 1: Max Verstappen issues warning over more Sprint weekends being added to calendar

Formula 1 president Stefano Domenicali suggested in China that more Sprint weekends could be added to the sport's calendar in future seasons; watch the second Sprint weekend of 2024 at the Miami Grand Prix live on Sky Sports from May 3-5

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lewis Hamilton snatches the lead from Lando Norris in the Sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix

As China hosted the first of six Formula 1 Sprint weekends in 2024, the paddock's attention was already shifting towards a discussion over whether the format should be rolled out more regularly in the future.

First introduced in 2021, the Sprint format aims to bring more competitive action to a race weekend.

Having been tweaked for the second time in as many years, the latest iteration of the format sees two of the three traditional practice sessions replaced by Sprint Qualifying and the 100km Sprint race.

The sport's bosses have confirmed that Sprint weekends have been great for global television viewing figures, with far more people tuning in to watch a Friday Qualifying session than practice.

However, a Sprint weekend also comes with additional challenges for the teams, placing huge pressure on mechanics and engineers to find optimal car setups after just 60, rather than 180 minutes, of practice.

Domenicali kickstarts debate

While the first Sprint of the season in Shanghai naturally brought the format into focus, it was comments made by F1 president Stefano Domenicali to Sky Sports F1 that sparked a paddock-wide conversation.

Enthused by a thrilling wet Sprint Qualifying session in Shanghai that had seen Lando Norris beat Lewis Hamilton to pole, Domenicali hinted that he would like to see more of the alternative weekends added in 2025.

Also See:

The Italian pointed to the contrast of what had happened in Japan two weeks earlier, when rain during a wet second practice, which takes place in the slot where Sprint Qualifying would be, meant that there was hardly any action on track.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali says they will discuss more Sprints in the future after reflecting on the success of the new Sprint format in China

He said: "On Friday, in the Qualifying Sprint, we had incredible conditions and a lot of running which is a reminder that we have the duty to make sure every day, there is some action on the track, to respect the fans coming here because we want to have fun."

Asked whether more Sprints should be added to the calendar, he replied: "Why not? I would say they are great because it keeps the tension every day. This is something we will discuss in the future.

"Let's see how this format this year goes. For sure, what I want to discuss in the next F1 Commission is to avoid the possibility like we had in Japan where cars didn't run. That was not good because there are people coming to see us and the drivers.

"I'm sure the teams will understand, so we need to find some solutions."

Verstappen issues warning

Somewhat awkwardly for Domenicali, the most vocal critic of the Sprint format since its introduction has been the three-time reigning world champion, Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman did at least approve of the tweak to the Sprint running order for 2024, which sees Sprint Qualifying take place on a Friday, and the full Qualifying session that previously occupied that slot instead take place on Saturday after the Sprint.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Max Verstappen felt the Sprint went better than expected after claiming victory from fourth helped by the Red Bull suffering less tyre degradation

"The Sprint format was better, I think," Verstappen said. "A bit more straightforward, I would say."

When asked about the prospect of more Sprints, he replied: "But let's not overdo it as well because we are already doing 24 races a year, six of these Sprint events as well. I get it.

"I guess it sells better and better numbers on TV, but it's also more stress on the mechanics and everything, to get everything every time tiptop, so, we take it.

"I mean you have to deal with it, but let's not think that now we need 12 of those because it will take its toll on people as well."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft believes that if there are more sprint races introduced into the sport, then they should be in a separate championship, not the part of a Grand Prix

Lando Norris shared a similar view to Verstappen, highlighting the challenges for wider team personnel.

"The main point is just the toll it has on mechanics and engineers," the McLaren driver said. "I don't think it's too bad for us as drivers, honestly. I don't think we can be the ones to complain at all.

"It's the hundreds of mechanics and engineers that we have here that have to travel so much. It's not healthy for them. It is not sustainable. The problem is not with us. So, it's not something you should be asking us."

Hamilton leads praise for parc ferme change

The key change that the rejigged schedule has enabled is a release from parc ferme conditions between the end of the Sprint and start of full Qualifying.

Unlike in the past, when car setups were locked in from the start of Qualifying on a Friday until the end of the weekend, teams and drivers can now take learnings from the Sprint sessions to make changes.

While Red Bull's current dominance somewhat diminishes the benefits, the idea is that setup changes could significantly alter the pecking order, ensuring that the Sprint doesn't just act as a preview of what the full-length race will be like.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

An intense end to the Sprint Qualifying race saw Lando Norris take pole position from Lewis Hamilton right at the death

Speaking after Saturday's Sprint, Lewis Hamilton praised the alteration.

"The ability to be able to make a change right now and potentially try and close the gap to the Red Bulls, or at least whoever's up ahead of us, I think is great for the race weekend," Hamilton said.

"Before, if you were just stuck in it right now, you would already absolutely know the end race result but instead we've got something new and exciting."

Unlike Verstappen, the seven-time world champion has been a notable advocate for Sprint weekends.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Everything you need to know about F1's new Sprint format for six races in 2024

"I've always generally enjoyed the Sprint format," he added. "I think there's a lot of time wasted on these weekends.

"We could either shorten the weekends or pack the day more so that the fans have more of an experience.

"There's at least 10 hours wasted during the day where we could be entertaining the fans on track. Of course, sustainability has to come into that."

Swap the early alarms for prime-time evening viewing on Sky Sports F1 as Formula 1 next makes its first of three visits to the USA in 2024, with the Miami GP on May 3-5. Steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

Ad content | Stream Sky Sports on NOW


Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Premier League, EFL, F1, England Cricket, Tennis and so much more.

Around Sky