Drivers not happy with sprint race in China: ‘Yes, very smart to do that’

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Drivers not happy with sprint race in China: 'Yes, very smart to do that'

In two weeks the Formula 1 circus will descend on Shanghai, China. It is the first time in five years that the Chinese circuit is back on the calendar. Due to the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, the race has not been held in the Asian country since 2019. For the first time, a sprint race is planned on Saturday. A few drivers are not happy about this, reports the Telegraaf.

The introduction of the sprint race was discussed during the FIA ​​press conference after the Japanese Grand Prix. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen, teammate Sergio Pérez, but also Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz are not really happy with the change.

Preference for normal race weekend

Sprint races can again be found on the Formula 1 calendar this year. The 2024 season has a total of six, the first of which will be held in China. When a sprint race is scheduled, the weekend only has one regular training session on Friday. Immediately afterwards, qualifying for the sprint race takes place. The sprint race, in which the first eight drivers can score points, takes place on Saturday. After the sprint race, regular qualifying for the race will take place on Sunday.

The drivers seem to be mainly concerned about what it will be like to return to the circuit after such a long time. Verstappen reacts cynically when asked what he thinks about the first sprint race of the season taking place in China. “Yes, very smart to do that,” he says. ‘When you’ve been away from a circuit for years, you never quite know what you’re going to experience. It would be better to have a normal racing weekend there.’

Verstappen and his teammate Pérez suspect that the sprint race was mainly added to the Chinese race weekend as entertainment for the spectators. ‘It’s probably meant to shake things up a bit, because that’s what ‘they’ want to see. But from the driver and performance side it is not the best thing to do,” says Verstappen. “It will be good for the show, but in terms of preparation it will be very difficult,” Pérez adds.

Previously complained to the FIA

Pérez expects that the only free training available will be very busy. “For example, I have never driven a Red Bull myself, so we must have a lot to do in the only training,” he says. Ferrari driver Sainz indicates that he and other drivers have previously indicated to the FIA ​​that they would rather not have a sprint race held in China.

Sainz emphasizes that the Shanghai circuit is one of the best on the calendar. “There are a lot of overtaking opportunities, so from that point of view it makes sense that there is a sprint race.” What worries him is that since the last Chinese Grand Prix, the cars and rules within the sport have changed. ‘Especially with the current cars and rules, just one bump on the track can be treacherous. Then it is not wise to plan a sprint race after years of absence. I also understood that new asphalt is being laid, so there is a lot of uncertainty.’

If it were up to Sainz, the potential danger is too great. “It can be a spectacle for the people at home, but for engineers and drivers, in my opinion, you should not take this risk,” the Spaniard concludes.

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