Hill baffled by 'unusual' Verstappen retirement threat

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Damon Hill says that Max Verstappen's suggestion that he could retire from the sport if F1 persists with its Sprint race format changes is "strange to hear" from the two-time world champion.

This season, in a bid to spice up the show, six venues will host a Saturday afternoon sprint race, but the 30-minute mad dash is likely to become a standalone event, with its own qualifying session, while a separate qualie on Friday afternoon would determine the grid for Sunday.

But as a purist, Verstappen is no fan of the Sprint race concept, insisting that Sunday's race should remain the singe center-piece event of the weekend.

"I’m happy with just the main race. I think that’s way better for the excitement," the Red Bull charger said in Melbourne.

"I naturally of course hope that there won’t be too many changes, otherwise I won’t be around for too long.

"Even if you change the format, I don't find it's the DNA of Formula 1 to do these kinds of sprint races.

"F1 is about getting the most out of it in qualifying, and then having an amazing Sunday - good, long race distances.

"That's the DNA of the sport, and I don't understand or I don't know why we should change that, because I think the action has been good."

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Addressing Verstappen's comments on the Sky Sports' podcast, Hill struggled to understand the Dutchman's attitude, and suggested that if he was serious about walking away from the sport on the pretense of F1 evolving its format, than perhaps he should leave the grid immediately.

"Max’s retirement threat is very unusual. It is kind of strange to hear, isn’t it? I mean, what’s he gonna do with himself?

"He should stop now, really. Stop now – he’s done it!

"You mentioned fun – I think that’s a very important point. Is he having fun, because I sometimes think he’s not having fun. I think you have to love what you’re doing, otherwise it’s a grind."

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. 01.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Qualifying Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Verstappen's comments in Australia about the growing length of the F1 season did indeed reflect a level of frustration.

"We’re heading into seasons where you have at one point 24, 25 races, because that’s where we’re going to head into and if we start adding even more stuff, it’s not worth it for me anyway. I’m not enjoying that," he admitted at Albert Park.

But Hill's Sky F1 colleague Martin Brundle doubts the current leader of the F1 world championship will throw in the towel anytime soon.

"If he doesn’t want to drive it there will be a million other people who do want to drive that Red Bull,” Brundle said.

"I think what he’s trying to say is don’t mess around too much. Let’s just evolve and massage this along. Don’t keep changing the ground rules."

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