Published On: Mon, Apr 15th, 2024

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz protest key F1 decision ahead of Chinese GP | F1 | Sport

The Chinese Grand Prix will return in style this weekend as F1 prepares for its first sprint race of the season. The decision to afford drivers just one hour of practice after the track’s four-year absence from the calendar has not been a popular one among drivers though, with Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz speaking out against it.

Fans and drivers have both enjoyed racing at the Shanghai International Circuit in the past, but since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted global sport in 2020, the Chinese GP has been absent from the calendar.

However, it returns this weekend with a new sprint race format to boot. Under the new schedule, drivers will begin the weekend with an hour of practice before heading into sprint qualifying. Then, on Saturday, the sprint race will be followed by qualifying, and the Grand Prix will retain its headline spot on Sunday.

Asked about the idea to give drivers just one hour of practice on their return to Shanghai, Verstappen sarcastically replied: “Yeah, it’s very smart to do that!” The Red Bull ace then continued: “I think it’s not great, let’s say like that, 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, right? So it would have been better to have a normal race weekend there.

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

These opinions were backed up by Ferrari star Carlos Sainz, who added: “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.

“We say to FIA and Formula One, with these kinds of cars to go to a track with one hour of practice and straight into qualifying, with the regulations that they put 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 choose to put the Sprint after four or five years absence.”

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