Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen (left) celebrates his second world championship with Red Bull engineers and pit crew at Suzuka AFP / Toshifumi KITAMURA

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has always been vocal about his opinions especially when there is something that rubs him the wrong way within the Red Bull team or with the sport in general. Now, he has threatened to quit F1 if more upcoming changes are not to his liking.

The 2023 season started out well for Verstappen, winning two out of the first three races. He suffered a drive shaft failure during qualifying in Jeddah, but such was the pace of his Red Bull that he was able to finish in second place despite starting all the was down in P15.

He currently leads the Drivers' World Championship standings by 15 points ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. Things are going swimmingly for the Dutchman, and the sport in general has also been enjoying increasing popularity thanks to major changes introduced by Liberty Media.

However, Verstappen has warned that while he sees the positive effects of the changes, he does not want to see too many more drastic changes that might have a detrimental effect on other aspects of the sport for the sake of marketing and PR.

As an example, he pointed out the introduction of more Sprint Races this season and the potential reduction of practice sessions over a Grand Prix weekend. From his point of view, the main race on Sunday should be enough in terms of entertainment value. "I'm happy with just the main race. I think that's much better for the excitement. Naturally, I hope there won't be too many changes; otherwise, I won't do it, I won't be here for long," Verstappen said, while speaking to Sport TV.

How does the Sprint Race change the F1 weekend?

The next race weekend will take place on April 28-30 in Baku. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be the venue for the first Sprint Race of the 2023 season. While the Sprint Race itself is no longer a new concept, this year will hold the most number of sprints. Throughout an already record number of 23 Grand Prix weekends this year, there will be an unprecedented six Sprint Races.

Apart from increasing the frequency of the Sprint Races, the FIA is also planning on reducing the number of free practice sessions in favour of an extra qualifying session. The new weekend schedule will feature one practice session on Friday, plus Qualifying for the main race on Sunday.

Then, the second free practice session on Saturday will be turned into a Qualifying session for the Sprint Race later that day. The results of the Sprint would no longer affect the starting grid on Sunday, which would depend on Friday's Qualifying.

This proposal is still subject to a vote by the World Motor Sport Council, and the goal is to add more competitive sessions throughout a race weekend for the enjoyment of viewers. However, this gives teams and drivers a lot more work to do. Likewise, it also increases the risk of incurring damages at some point in the weekend prior to the main race itself.

With funding increasingly getting tighter thanks to budget caps, teams will be having a hard time keeping their cars competitive throughout the duration of the season.

More work, less off time for everyone in the sport

Formula 1 seasons used to feature around 17-18 Grand Prix weekends. This year will have at least five more races than a few years ago, meaning that everyone will be on the road for at least three months longer than they used to.

Apart from that, F1 has also taken advantage of many more media platforms apart from the traditional TV coverage. On race weekends, there are a lot of promotional activities for sponsors and fan meets that have been introduced. Netflix has been filming its hit series "Drive to Survive," following teams and individuals around all season doing interviews and capturing footage.

Each team also has a number of social media platforms now, with drivers and staff often needing to take part in activities well outside of racing in order to produce quality content. All of these factors have added to the tremendous workload of everyone in the sport, who used to focus mostly on what happens on the track.

Needless to say, the changes have been great watching from the outside as more channels open up for fans to connect with the sport, but the work has grown exponentially.

Will Verstappen quit in the near future?

Verstappen is bound by a contract to stay with Red Bull until at least 2028. He is among the crop of young drivers like Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris who sealed their F1 futures in long-term deals in recent years, but Verstappen does have an exit clause.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko revealed in an interview quoted by Marca that the two-time world champion can leave the team if their performance level suddenly drops. "If we experience a 'crash' like in 2014, when we had absolutely no chance against Mercedes on the engine side, then there is clearly an escape clause," he said.

For now, the Red Bulls are head and shoulders above the rest of the grid, meaning it will be unlikely for Verstappen to cut the cord. However, he has given a sound warning to those running the sport, making it clear that the drastic changes need to be evaluated thoroughly and be implemented only with everyone's best interests in mind.