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Max Verstappen: World Champion Casts Doubt Over F1 Future Amid Concerns over Schedule and Format

May 1, 2023 World Sports

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has reiterated his doubts over remaining in the sport beyond the expiration of his current Red Bull contract in 2028.

Verstappen is the clear favourite to win a third successive drivers’ title after making a strong start to the 2023 season, but recently suggested that changes to the sport – notably the introduction of more Sprint races – could lead him to exit sooner rather than later.

Since Verstappen made those comments in March, a new Sprint weekend format has been introduced that will debut at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1.

Asked how that development had impacted his mindset, Verstappen suggested that it’s not just Sprint races, but several other factors, most notably a 23-race calendar which is expected to grow in the future.

“I have to be careful what I say now,” Verstappen told reporters in Baku on Thursday. “I’ve always said anyway that even if there weren’t any more sprint races, but if we keep expanding the calendar and the whole weekend is that long, at one point you question yourself ‘is it worth it?’

“I do like racing, I do like winning. I know that of course the salary and everything, you have a good life, but is it actually a good life? I think sometimes you get to a point in your career where maybe you want to do other stuff.

“I know that I have a contract until the end of 2028, and then we’ll review again. But I do feel that if it’s getting at one point too much, then it’s time for a change. I think you always have to be talking to yourself and looking at yourself [asking] ‘are you still very motivated and do you love what you do?’

“At the moment, that is definitely the case, but there will for sure be a point where you want to do maybe other stuff as well.”

‘Lots of people will struggle’ with growing F1 schedule
Verstappen came out on top in a thrilling battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to win his maiden title in 2021, before dominating to retain the drivers’ crown in 2022 with a record 15 race victories.

Red Bull appear primed for more success with their RB19 the class of the 2023 field, and the team’s stunning early-season pace has many wondering whether their rivals will be able to catch up before the introduction of new engine regulations in 2026.

Verstappen said: “Sometimes, this sounds very weird for people from the outside, because they’re like, ‘oh, yeah, you’re in Formula 1, you’re winning!’ And probably I would have said the same when I was in their position, but once you’re in it, it’s not always how it looks like or how people think your life is, right?

“I mean, yes, it’s great. I mean it’s amazing, I can do a lot of things. I’m very independent, but there is always a limit to certain things.

“I think every person is a bit different. It also depends a bit what you want out of your life, right? Some people just love racing, and that’s the only thing they know or the only thing they want to do. I am probably a bit more in the middle. I mean, I do love racing but I also want to do other kind of racing and then you can’t combine the two, or set up other kinds of stuff.

“I think when you do that amount of races, not only drivers, but also staff and the team, it’s a lot of people who will struggle with that.”

The combination of Verstappen’s brilliance at the wheel and Red Bull’s dominance has led to speculation as to whether the Dutchman could go on to match and exceed the record of seven world championships held by Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

Asked whether becoming the sport’s ‘greatest’ driver motivates him, Verstappen replied: “No, I’m not interested in winning seven or eight titles.

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