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Verstappen: Drivers don't race in F1 sprints out of fear

World Champion Max Verstappen is not a fan of the sprint format - believing action needs to be taken to improve the show.

Max Verstappen has criticised Formula 1's Sprint format as the two-time World Champion believes drivers "don't really race" out of fear. Introduced in 2021, the Saturday Sprint is used to set the grid for the main Grand Prix with a smaller race, which is around one-third distance of the main Grand Prix. The third-and-final sprint race of the 2022 season is set to take place at the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend, with the number increasing to six events for the '23 campaign. However, Verstappen, who has won both Sprint races at Imola and in Austria in 2022, believes the format is boring as drivers don't want to risk scuppering their chances in the main Grand Prix.

Verstappen on sprint races

"I'm honestly just not a big fan of it because I feel like we don't really race," Verstappen told media including RacingNews365.com. "Okay, there are a few points that you can get (for the top eight finishers), but you also know you can't really risk it because the main race is where you really get the points. "You don't do a pit-stop, so you just put on the tyre which will last the distance. "With these cars, the racing is a little better but, overall, you don't see a lot of overtaking unless there is a car out of position. "So it is not really that fun for me, everyone has their own opinion - but for it's not that fun."

What Verstappen does like about Sprints

Despite not liking the format of racing in sprints itself, Verstappen admitted he did like the pressure of going straight into qualifying (to set the Sprint grid) after just one practice session. "I do like the one practice [session] and then going straight into qualifying," he said. "I don't mind that because it's less practice for everyone to get fully up to speed and you need to really nail the setup, so that's okay. "But, I always feel a bit like that when I go into a Sprint race, I'm not really risking a lot and just want to play safe." Haas racer Kevin Magnussen also weighed in on the Sprint format - but unlike Verstappen is a fan of it. "I kind of like it," the Dane explained. "Max has a good point that the risk you want to take in Sprint races is less because it decides the position for Sunday, so I think maybe a tweak could be to separate it [from the main race] so you can go for it. "I enjoy going from practice one straight into qualifying, like Max says, as it puts a lot of pressure on you to find a rhythm quickly and get the setup right. "When there's three practice sessions, it's quite a lot, but anyway, I kind of like it."

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