World champion Max Verstappen has warned F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali not to tinker too hard with Formula 1’s basic race weekend format.
Prior to the Australian GP weekend, Domenicali said he was pushing to eliminate as many practice sessions as possible from the existing schedule.
And in Melbourne, many of the top drivers agreed with him.
“No practice would be too little,” said George Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
“But I really enjoy the sprint races and having action on a Friday, I think, is vital for all of us and also for the entertainment factor.”
Pierre Gasly agrees that there is “no need from a driving point of view” to have so many practice sessions.
“I think one, two maximum, is more than enough or us,” said the Frenchman.
Nico Hulkenberg added: “I quite liked Formula 2 at the time, having only 30 minutes and then thrown into qualifying.”
But back-to-back title winner Verstappen bucked the position of many of his rivals by warning Domenicali to ensure the “DNA” of the sport is left intact.
“It’s no secret – I’m not a fan of sprint weekends,” he said. “I’m also not a fan of this jam-packed calendar.
“We also have to be very careful with experimenting too much with Formula 1 in other ways, otherwise we’ll lose the soul of Formula 1,” the Dutchman added.
As for the specific proposal of scrapping or dramatically reducing the number of free practice sessions, Verstappen said F1 should have other priorities.
“Well, if we do this many races, maybe you can cancel a practice session,” said the Red Bull driver. “But I wouldn’t change anything else.
“I think the focus should instead be on finding ways of getting the field closer together. That’s what would lead to more exciting races.
“I think that’s more important right now than tinkering with the format.”