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Christian Horner is “not happy” with new FIA rule changes introduced for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, according to former F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. In Australia, Horner blasted F1’s decision to host a Saturday sprint race in Baku over safety fears.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen openly criticised F1’s plans to expand the sprint formula at race weekends. The Dutchman has even threatened to walk away from the sport if too many alterations were made.
However, Fittipaldi claimed Red Bull are possibly the only people on the grid who opposed the plans with fans set to love the shorter events. Fittipaldi told MyBettingSites.co.uk: “I compare the sprint race to when the guy is leading the race, we get a yellow flag for the course and there comes out the pace car. The only guy who doesn’t like it is the leader.
“Everybody else loves it, the public, the commentator, everybody is going to stand up again and see now there’s a bigger chance for the guy in the back to pass the leader.
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“Christian Horner is thinking, I’m in pole position anyway. Why am I going to take a risk with my two cars on Saturday, to damage them and possibly not race on Sunday. That’s the only guy who is not happy.
“But, the public is happy. The public loves another motor race. I know it is tough for the drivers, tough for the teams because there’s always a risk. But for the public, I think it is great to have. I like the idea. Baku is a high-risk crash track and that’s why Christian doesn’t like it. He’s the guy who’s leading the race, and then a yellow flag comes up.”
The sprint system has been tweaked ahead of this weekend with the introduction of two qualifying sessions. Friday’s qualifying will set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix with a separate three-part knockout session on Saturday morning to determine the order for the sprint.
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The shorter race will also have less jeopardy than in previous years with starting spots for Sunday’s race not set to change. However, in Melbourne, Horner claimed a sprint race in Baku was a “ludicrous” decision.
He suggested drivers would “trash their cars” which would be damaging to team’s cost cap budgets. Verstappen threatened to retire from F1 if bosses altered the current format too much and deviated from the DNA of the sport.
He commented: “Even if you change the format, I don’t find that is in the DNA of Formula One to do these kind of sprint races. I hope there won’t be too many changes, otherwise, I won’t be around for too long. I am not a fan of it at all. When we do all that kind of stuff, the weekend becomes very intense and we already do a lot of races. But it is not the right way to go about it.”
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