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F1 drivers question widsom of running F1 sprint race in China after four-year absence

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz - The Canadian Press

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Formula 1 returns to Shanghai in two weeks for the Chinese Grand Prix. Drivers like the track, but raised questions on Sunday about a feature of the race weekend – the F1 sprint race.

The sprint is a shorter race — run on Saturday before the Sunday race — with six of them scattered over the 2024 season. Having the sprint cuts out practice time, which is the chief worry of most drivers.

The top three finishers on Sunday in the Japanese GP questioned holding a sprint in China, a track that has not held an F1 race since 2019.

Four races were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think China as a race circuit is a great one," Carlos Sainz of Ferrari said. "I think it’s one of our favorite ones. It’s just a great racing track.”

And then he added: “I think it’s not a good choice to put the sprint (there) after a four or five years absence. We also heard there is resurfacing going on.”

Sergio Perez of Red Bull echoed Sainz.

"I just hope there are no issues with the track.” Perez said. “Any drain holes, any issues like that will put us out of sync. But I think for the show, probably, it’s a good thing. But I think from the preparation side it’s going to be definitely one that is going to be really hard.”

Max Verstappen, who won on Sunday in Japan, suggested the weekend will be “quite hectic" because of the sprint and the long absence from Shanghai.

"We’ve haven’t been there in a while — only one practice session to get into it again. So I think it will be quite interesting.”

Verstappen then got more to the point.

"I think it’s not great,” he added. “When you have been away from a track for quite a while, you never know what you’re going to experience. It would have been better to have a normal race weekend.”


AP Formula 1: