Verstappen on limiting his F1 weekend activities: 'I'm there to race, not entertain'

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Max Verstappen has explained why he has no interest in doing more off-track activities at 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 meant such activities have been reduced but even as F1 and the world start to return to normal, Verstappen isn't planning on adding to his current schedule.

“Even if there is no COVID for sure I’m not going to do more on weekends because I’m there to race, I’m not there to entertain the crowds,” he told Reuters. “I’ll entertain them by doing that 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 commitments you can do on a weekend.

“Otherwise you get upset, you don’t feel good and it’s going to hurt your performance. So you need to just keep it exactly the same, the same approach as other race weekends.

“But you should be able to say ‘no’ to certain commitments because, at the end of the day, you are here to drive and to race because that’s what you live for and what you get paid to do."

For many drivers, off-track activities are most intense at their home race, as Verstappen himself discovered for the first time at Zandvoort last year.

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But the Dutchman actually pointed to the example of former teammate Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne to back up his point.

“I always felt sorry for him because he was always so busy,” said Verstappen. “He actually never really got to fully enjoy it.

“Maybe he manages it differently now but I remember when he was here it was tough, he was super busy in the week leading up to the Grand Prix.

“So I hope for him that at least he can enjoy it a bit more now because I think it is very special to have a home Grand Prix.”

The biggest off-track activities are media-based and, as more races are added to the calendar, this year F1 tried to shorten the weekend format by holding press conferences on a Friday morning.

However, the Red Bull driver criticised 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 is not really a day anymore but actually, for us, is the same, and even more now on a Friday when you come in early," Verstappen explained.

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“Coming in early is not a problem, but your whole day is longer, so with going to more races, you would like to have a shorter weekend.

“But actually now, with more races, we are also having longer weekends or at least more days that we are at the track and doing stuff, so that definitely needs to change.”

Another bugbear is how TV interviews are all held separately, meaning drivers are constantly answering the same questions.

"You’re basically repeating yourself six or seven times!" Max said. "You try, of course, to keep it interesting, to try to word it in a different way, but, at the end of the day, you say the same thing, right?"

To solve that, Verstappen believes TV should follow written media in having a group press conference.

"Instead of giving the broadcasters two questions each, they all have, basically, whatever, six, eight, 10 questions, just in one go, and they can all broadcast it,” he said.

“I think that’s also way more efficient and nicer for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have 20 mics lined up all from different companies. You get a lot more out of the drivers."