Max Verstappen has insisted that F1’s decision to prioritise ‘the show’ rather than the sport will determine whether or not he calls time on his spell in the series. The 26-year-old has regularly talked about his desire to create a racing legacy in other categories.
The 2023 season has brought unprecedented and record-breaking levels of success to Verstappen with the 26-year-old becoming a three-time world champion, as well as setting countless records, many of which he already held himself. With two races remaining on the calendar, he has 17 Grand Prix victories to his name.
Despite this success, Verstappen has also been more vocal in his criticism of F1’s management off the track. The Dutchman is vehemently opposed to the continuation of the sprint race experiment, claiming that it dilutes the race weekends and threatening that this could advance his retirement plans from the series.
Verstappen has also expressed his discontent with the attitude of some of the sport’s newer fans after he was booed on the podium at the United States Grand Prix by a large group of Sergio Perez fans, many of whom are unhappy with the reigning world champion as he continues to dominate his team-mate.
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Speaking to TIME Magazine about the direction F1 is heading in, Verstappen said: “I would just keep in mind that the actual sport comes first, instead of the show…That, for me, is very important, and that eventually will also decide if I stay or not.”
However, when pressed on his retirement claims and at what point he’d consider calling it quits in F1, he replied: “Would I like to win seven? Yeah, why not?… But even if I don’t win seven, I know that there’s still so many more things in life than F1. I’m already very happy with what I have achieved.”
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The reigning world champion was then asked about whether or not he’s watched Drive to Survive, to which he responded: “I don’t need to watch it because I know what happens…I’m also not very interested to hear from our neighbours how they saw their season. I know my side of the story. For me, that’s enough.”
Whether or not Verstappen is setting out with the specific goal of matching Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher remains a doubt, but he is well on his way to doing so. The 26-year-old is now just one win behind Sebastian Vettel’s career-long tally of 53, meaning he will soon become the third most successful driver in the sport’s history on that front.
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