Verstappen ‘still not a fan’ of F1 sprint racing, despite Imola win
The world champion bounced back from a poor start at Imola on Saturday to throw a penultimate passing lap over Leclerc to take the win that secures him pole for Sunday’s main grand prix.
But despite the thrilling nature of his passing and the extra points he earned, Verstappen says his long-held aversion to sprint weekends has not been assuaged.
He has said in the past that he didn’t like having a single practice session before qualifying and that parc fermé restrictions blocked the car’s set-up from Friday afternoon.
When asked after the sprint victory if the thrilling race had changed his perspective on sprinting, he replied: “No, it hasn’t for me. I’m still not a fan of sprint races because in the end it doesn’t change anything.
“It doesn’t matter if you fight as well in the sprint race or in the actual race. I just like how the whole weekend goes much better with a normal weekend schedule.
While not optimistic about the sprint format, Verstappen said he was at least more encouraged by the pace of the Red Bull – which suffered significantly less from tire degradation than the Ferrari.
The Dutchman believes the turnaround from Australia, where Red Bull were much worse off, is simply down to the team finding a better balance with the RB18.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
“We had a very bad balance in qualifying and a totally different balance for the race in Australia,” he said. “That balance hurt us a lot in terms of tire deflation on the front left.
“In the end, it’s a very different circuit. In Australia Ferrari looked great but if you understand everything perfectly you have no problem here of course.
“It’s hit and miss with how the tires work. But the things we learned in the second practice session worked well for the race.”
Verstappen felt some weight-saving measures taken by Red Bull had also helped him – although he couldn’t be specific about how much help they had.
“I find it hard to say because [Friday] was a bit of a turbulent day, so it’s very difficult to compare,” he said.
“But the feeling is definitely a bit better and the car is much lighter than before.
“I feel a little better now, yes. But the cars are still very new and very sensitive with the tyres.