By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent, Melbourne
Max Verstappen has threatened to turn his back on Formula One if the sport’s bosses press ahead with plans to expand the number of sprint events.
The shortened-race format was first introduced at three rounds in 2021, and has been doubled to six for this year, with the first of the season taking place in Azerbaijan at the end of the month.
In its current guise, Friday qualifying determines the grid for Saturday’s dash. The result of the sprint then establishes the order for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Very happy with my Quali and to be on Pole here in Melbourne!
Looking forward to tomorrow's race @redbullracing 💪 pic.twitter.com/1NeVSsLwbd
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) April 1, 2023
But Saturday’s schedule could now see an additional qualifying session set the grid for the sprint. Friday’s qualifying result would then be the starting order for Sunday’s main event.
The change in format could even be introduced at the next round in Baku with an informal meeting of the grid’s major players set to take place in Melbourne before Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
But Verstappen, who starts from pole position in Albert Park on Sunday, said: “I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long.
“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.
“I understand they want to make every day at the track exciting but they should reduce the weekend, and only race on Saturday and Sunday and make those two days exciting.
“We are heading into seasons where we could have 24 or 25 races and if you then start adding more it is not worth it for me. I will not enjoy that.
“And even if you change the format, I don’t find that is in the DNA of Formula One to do these kind of sprint races.
“F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying and have an amazing Sunday over a long race distance. That is the DNA of the sport and I don’t understand why we need to change that.
“How do you get even more action? Get the cars closer, and have more teams fighting for the wins. The show would then be great if we had six or seven teams fighting for the win. That would be insane and then you wouldn’t need to change anything.”