Max Verstappen questions ‘not the smartest’ decision about returning Chinese GP

Max Verstappen has questioned the logic behind making the returning Chinese Grand Prix a sprint weekend.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day.
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4,…

Max Verstappen has questioned the wisdom of the decision to make the returning F1 Chinese Grand Prix a sprint weekend.

F1 is returning to the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time since 2019, after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Chinese Grand Prix to be cancelled for four consecutive years.

China has been selected as the first of six sprint events this year, a decision which reigning world champion Verstappen - an open critic of the sprint format - has questioned.

"Yeah, it's very smart to do that,” Verstappen sarcastically replied when asked for his thoughts on the move.

"I think it's not great to do that because when you have been away from a track for quite a while, I think you never know what you're going to experience, so it would have been better to have a normal race weekend there.

"On the other hand, it probably spices things up a bit more, and that's maybe what they would like to see. But purely from a driving and performance perspective of the sport, I think it's not the smartest thing to do.

"We'll see what we get there. I always loved driving there, so hopefully we can hit the ground running as well as we can, and hopefully we don't need to fine-tune too many things on the car.”

Sergio Perez agreed with his Red Bull teammate, saying: "I just hope that there are no issues with the track, with any drain holes, any issues like that.

The last Chinese Grand Prix was held in 2019
The last Chinese Grand Prix was held in 2019

"That will just put us out of sync. But I think for the show, probably it's good. It's a good thing.

“But I think from the preparation side, it's going to be definitely one that is going to be really hard because, I mean, I've never raced there, for example, with Red Bull so it's going to be quite a lot to do in a single practice.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said it “makes sense” to hold a sprint event in China, but highlighted concerns about a lack of practice around a circuit that F1 cars have not run on for several years. 

"I think China as a race circuit is a great one, I think it's one of our favourites for everyone," he said. "It's just a great racing track and a track that offers a good possibility to overtake, so a sprint makes sense to have it there.

"At the same time, it's what we said in the drivers' briefing to the FIA and Formula 1.

"With these kind of cars, to go to a track with one hour of practice and straight into qualifying, with the regulations that they put on us, with the plank wear and things like this and how tricky one bump could make the car, I think it's not a good choice to put the sprint [there] after four or five years of absence.

"We also heard there's been resurfacing going on. Maybe for you guys at home, it's exciting, but for engineers and drivers, in my opinion, we shouldn't take the risk and have a normal weekend."

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