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Formula 1 president Stefano Domenicali’s said he’s kicking the tires on drastically altering the typical structure of race weekends. His idea has several vocal critics including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, the F1 president said he’d be in favor of getting rid of free practice sessions.
Whoa. Let’s not say things we can’t take back, Stefano.
I like drinking some coffee and watching practice on Fridays and Saturdays, but let’s hear him out. When asked, he walked back the idea of “no practice.”
“Of course, there needs to be the time for practice, but the people are coming to see performance and the more that you give the teams and drivers the chance to see who they are, the better it is for the show,” he told Sky Sports.
Domenicali said that the sport needed to appeal to a new generation of fans that “are more aggressive in asking for something different.”
So then what would be the change? The FP1 and FP2 on Friday, FP3 and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday has been around for some time.
According to Sky Sports, the proposal floating around involves an expansion of the sprint race format that the series has used since 2021 at occasional races (the first this season will be in a few weeks in Azerbaijan).
It would involve a practice session and qualifying for the Grand Prix on Friday. Saturday would be for single-lap qualifying to set the sprint race grid which would take place later that day. The Grand Prix would stay on Sunday.
Confused? Me too… a little.
Changing Weekend Formats Was Not Well Received By Max Verstappen
Now, it’s important to note that there’s no guarantee that these, or any changes for that matter, will be coming to the typical race weekend structure. However, that didn’t stop reporters from getting drivers’ takes on it.
One who was asked about it was two-time World Champion and current points leader, Max Verstappen.
“Even if you change the format, I don’t find that is in the DNA of Formula 1 to do these kind of sprint races,” the Dutchman said according to Sky Sports. “I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long.”
So, yeah, as you can see… he’s not totally jazzed about this idea.
Not that you should allow one driver to dictate how the entire weekend is run, but that response should set off some alarm bells for Formula 1. The reigning champ — who it looks like will win at least one more — says that could get him to leave the sport.
He’s only in his mid-20s! That’d be a huge loss for F1.
“I am not a fan of it at all. When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races. But it is not the right way to go about it,” he continued.”I understand that they want to have every day exciting, but then I think it’s better to just reduce the weekend – only race the Saturday and Sunday.
“And if you start adding even more stuff, it’s not worth it for me. I’m not enjoying that.”
Max wasn’t alone in not liking the idea of these changes. Mercedes George Russell wasn’t keen on it, neither was Sky Sports broadcaster and ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle.
However, Sir Lewis Hamilton, said it was “cool” that Formula 1 was trying new things. He did say the sport should consider ideas for circuits where sprint races wouldn’t work, namely Monaco.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle