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“It’s a Little Bit Like Getting a Medal For…”: Christian Horner Joins Max Verstappen to Berate F1’s Favorite Experiment

Nischay Rathore

“It’s a Little Bit Like Getting a Medal For...”: Christian Horner Joins Max Verstappen to Berate F1’s Favorite Experiment

Max Verstappen has time and again let his disdain known for the Sprint races. This time, his team boss Christian Horner has joined him in criticizing F1’s experiment with a few pointers to ponder over. While he admits the format is a lot more exciting for the promoters and the fans, there are a few changes he’d want to see to make the experience even more thrilling.

Speedcafe quoted Horner as saying, “I can understand the concept and it being action on all three days, which for the promoter and the fans has an interest. But I think the sprints, in some cases, have been slightly underwhelming. There’s no pit stop, it tends to stay in grid order, and it’s a little bit like getting a medal for a long run.”

He raised the alarm over how we often see the pole-sitter taking home the win in the Sprint race. The concern is certainly not unfounded. Take the 2023 season, for example. Out of 6 Sprint races, the pole-sitter won in 4 instances. Three of those went to his own driver Max Verstappen while Oscar Piastri bagged one.

One of the suggestions Horner proposes to make things more exciting is reversing the grid. This concept proposes one qualifying session for the race weekend. The result of that qualifying will decide the starting grid for the main race. The Sprint race, on the other hand, will follow the reverse order of qualifying. They can even adopt the Formula 2 model of only reversing the top 10 order.

Lately, the voices against the current format of scheduling of the Sprint format have also risen. Teams often find it difficult to adjust the car to the track and overall conditions owing to the hectic schedule.

How the current Sprint format has seen rising dissent among teams

On a normal race weekend, teams have ample time and opportunities to understand the track conditions and tweak the cars to get the best out of them. That is because of the 3 crucial practice sessions that give ample data points to refer to.

The Sprint weekend, however, has a single practice session before Qualifying comes into play and the Parc ferme rules kick in. Resultantly, teams have data from the only session and relatively less time to make changes before Qualifying.

Mercedes suffered dearly owing to this schedule at the US Grand Prix. After the solitary practice session, the Silver Arrows opted for a higher downforce setup which helped in the Sprint as well as the main race. In each of the races, Lewis Hamilton finished P2. However, on closer inspection after the race on Sunday, Hamilton’s car was found to have excessive plank wear, which resulted in his disqualification from the main race result.

Another pressing concern is the fatigue drivers and crew face with constant travel. Top that with the hustle and bustle of the Sprint weekend and it takes a serious toll on their health. The 2024 season will be no less brutal, given the fact that there are 24 races on the calendar with 6 of them will be Sprint weekends.

Going by F1 boss Stefano Domenicali’s recent comments, there are no signs of either of these numbers going down. Domenicali is open to making necessary changes to the format but has made it clear that the format is here to stay. If the teams reach a consensus on the possible changes, F1 might even go forward with a higher number of Sprint races in the coming years.

Post Edited By:Aishwary Gaonkar

About the author

Nischay Rathore

Nischay Rathore


Nischay Rathore is an F1 journalist at The SportsRush with over a thousand articles under his belt. An avid Ayrton Senna admirer, Nischay embarked on his sports journalism journey despite completing graduation in Law. When not covering the high-speed thrills of the pinnacle of motorsport, he can be seen enjoying crime thrillers and 90s gangster movies with a hearty bowl of buttery popcorn.

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