Verstappen: 'Gambling and guessing' inevitable with Qatar sprint format


Max Verstappen identified multiple challenges that could throw a spanner in the works in Qatar where a bit of "gambling and guessing" will be necessary to make the right calls amid the weekend's sprint race format.

The Red Bull driver has a strong chance of sealing his third world title in F1 at Lusail as he'll only need three points to bring it home, an achievement that could take place as early as Saturday's sprint event.

However, with drivers handed just a single practice session on Friday before heading into qualifying in the cooler evening conditions, it will be challenging for everyone to get it right in terms of their car's set-up.

"I think we normally should be quick here," commented Verstappen on Thursday. "But again, it’s only one practice session. So it’s about making sure we hit the ground running that, you know, the car is in a good place, good window.

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

Verstappen says that given the disparity in temperature between the afternoon and evening sessions, seeking the proper set-up could turn into a guessing game.

"It’s tough [with the Sprint format]," he added. "Also, you know 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, you know?

"So it makes it a lot harder and a bit of gambling and guessing as well as to make the right call, which is a bit of a shame for me.

"I think on this track, it would be amazing to have a few [practice sessions] to really setup the car nicely and be fully comfortable going into qualifying for everyone and to really get the best out of it. But, yeah, that’s how it is, they chose to do it here."

Although Verstappen remains wary that the conditions could derail his efforts, he also knows that it will be the same for everyone.

"It’s never going to be very straightforward for anyone out there. Of course, if you hit the ground running and the car feels amazing, yeah great, perfect. But it’s very rare that it’s like that and of course, with one session, but then again, it’s too hot.

"So then you’re going into qualifying with different conditions. It makes it a proper guessing game but, okay, we did FP1, we might be quite happy.

"But then what would we do for qualifying? Because it’s a lot colder and the balance and the tyres, everything changes. So there’s a lot that you have to get right.

"And for sure, you know, some teams will be better than others. Of course, I hope that we are on the better side, but I guess we’ll find out."

On the prospect of winning his third title this weekend and joining the likes of Ayrton, Nelson Piquet, Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir Jack Brabham, Verstappen admitted that such an achievement was never in his dreams as a child.

"Of course, I mean I’m very proud to be able to achieve these kinds of things, but also I live very much in the moment, right?" he said.

"So, I want to of course achieve more and, I know that once I stop racing, I have to look back and appreciate it probably even more.

"But for sure, it’s something that I never even thought about when I was a little kid, you know, that this was possible."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter