Is winning the F1 title in a sprint a problem for Max Verstappen? “Not for me!”

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Max Verstappen is on the brink of sealing a third straight Drivers’ Championship at the Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday.

If he finishes inside the top 6 or Sergio Perez fails to finish inside the top 3 in the sprint race tomorrow, the job will be completed before the main event.

Verstappen joked he was shaking at the prospect of winning the championship once again this weekend.

“Shaking, shaking. No, I mean, it’s fine. I mean, we’re having an amazing year of course. We just come into this weekend and we want to win again.

“Of course, I know that if I win or whatever achieve on Saturday, you win the championship. But I think we’re very focused on the main job anyway, just to have a good, good weekend.”

The thought of Verstappen winning the championship via the sprint has left a rather sour taste in the mouths of some media outlets and fans. However, Verstappen doesn’t mind it.

“Not for me. I mean, we can celebrate throughout a weekend, so it’s OK.”

Although the Dutchman should win it barring some unforeseen circumstances, a potential curveball for the races could be the fact there’s only a single practice session before cars get locked into Parc Ferme.

With FP1 taking place in the late afternoon but qualifying, the sprint and main race taking place at night, things could be complicated for Red Bull.

“I think we normally should be quick here. But again, it’s only one practice session, so it’s about making sure that once we hit the ground running that the car is in a good place, a good window.

“It’s very warm and then throughout the night, of course, it cools down a bit. So whatever you do in FP1, it’s still not clear for qualifying, so it makes it a lot harder and a bit of a gamble and guessing as well to make the right call.

“But normally, yeah, it should be a nice track for us. We just want to have a good weekend.”

Verstappen has been totally honest about his opinion of sprint weekends since the very start, and he once again wishes they had all three practice sessions ahead of qualifying this weekend fo really dial themselves in and go to the absolute limit in qualifying feeling comfortably with their machinery.

“For me it’s a bit of a shame because I think on this track, like it would be amazing to have like FP1, FP2 to really set up the car nicely and then, you know, be fully comfortable going into qualifying for everyone to really get the best out of it.

“I think it’s just a bit more exciting and especially in qualifying, you can go more to the limit because of more of what you’ve done in practice and like, for example, in Suzuka, like if you do FP1 there and then go straight into qualifying, you risk also to have bigger shunts. Yeah, it’s just not as fulfilling.

“But yeah, that’s how it is. They chose to do it here.”

An interesting and valid point Verstappen made as well is the fact the sprint can give away what will happen in the main race.

For example, his unexpectedly high tyre wear at the Austrian Grand Prix last year was already exposed in the sprint, taking that element of surprise away on the Sunday. The Ferrari of Charles Leclerc ultimately prevailed on the Sunday.

“I always keep saying that once we do a sprint race, you will get the big picture anyway for the main race. So, you know, more or less already, ‘ah, well, this car is going to be really good in the race. The other one is going to drop back’. So, it takes a little bit of the excitement away.

“I remember from when I was a fan and

just from the outside of the F1 world, like you don’t know which car is particularly amazing in the long run or have they nailed the race setup.

“Like you do, you watch qualifying and you’re like, ‘oh, wow, OK’, but it might be that one car is in front and he will drop back in the race, it’s all unclear. Then you wake up for the Sunday race and then you see it all unfold.

“But because of the sprint race, it takes that already a bit away. You’re like, ‘ah, well, if nothing happens, he doesn’t crash, they are going to win the race’, that team or whatever.”

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool