Max Verstappen has explained why he has no interest in doing more off-track activities on Formula 1 weekends.
The Dutchman is one of the sport’s biggest stars and the current world champion, a position that usually results in increased media appearances, promotional activity and fan interaction.
In recent years the pandemic has led to a reduction in such activities, but even if F1 and the world begin to return to normal, Verstappen does not plan to add to his current schedule.
“Even if there’s no COVID, for sure, I’m not going to do more on the weekends because I’m here to race, I’m not here to entertain the crowds,” a- he declared. Reuters. “I’m going to entertain them by doing this on the track.
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“As a driver you know what you need to feel good in the car and you really know how many engagements you can do in a weekend.
“Otherwise you get upset, you don’t feel good and it will hurt your performance. So you have to keep exactly the same approach, the same approach as the other race weekends.
“But you should be able to say ‘no’ to certain commitments because at the end of the day you’re here to ride and race, because that’s what you live for and what you get paid for.”
For many drivers, the off-road activities are most intense during their home race, as Verstappen himself first discovered at Zandvoort last year.
But the Dutchman actually cited the example of former teammate Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne to back up his point.
“I always felt sorry for him because he was always really busy,” Verstappen said. “In fact, he never really got to enjoy it to the full.
“Maybe he handles things differently now, but I remember when he was here it was difficult, he was very busy the week before the Grand Prix.
“So hopefully for him that he can at least enjoy it a bit more now because I think it’s very special to have a Grand Prix at home.”
The biggest off-track activities are media-based and, as more races are added to the calendar, this year F1 has tried to shorten the weekend format by holding press conferences on Friday mornings.
However, the Red Bull driver criticized the change as making little difference as non-FIA media activities still take place on Thursday.
“I think it was better before because now our Thursday is very long, which officially isn’t really a day anymore but in fact for us it’s the same, and even more so now on a Friday when you arrive early “, explained Verstappen.
“Arriving early is not a problem, but your whole day is longer, so with more races you would like to have a shorter weekend.
“But actually now with more races we also have longer weekends or at least more days that we are on the track and doing things, so that definitely has to change.
Another bugbear is how the TV interviews are all set up separately, which means the drivers are constantly answering the same questions.
“You basically repeat yourself six or seven times!” said Max. “You try, of course, to keep it interesting, to try to phrase it differently, but, in the end, you’re saying the same thing, aren’t you?”
To solve this problem, Verstappen thinks television should follow the print media by organizing a group press conference.
“Instead of giving broadcasters two questions each, they all have, basically, whatever, six, eight, 10 questions, all at once, and they can all broadcast it,” he said.
“I think it’s also much more efficient and enjoyable for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have 20 mics lined up, all from different companies. You get a lot more from the pilots.”