F1 boss issues blunt response to Max Verstappen’s calendar complaints

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) looks bored during Thursday's FIA press conference at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) looks bored during Thursday's FIA press conference at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali has issued a blunt response to Max Verstappen’s complaints about the ever-expanding calendar, insisting the sport simply can’t be left “in the hands of the drivers.”

Reigning World Champion Verstappen is enjoying one of the most dominant seasons in history and claimed a record 10th successive victory at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

His milestone triumph means the Red Bull star has now won 37 of the last 58 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021.

F1 boss hits back at Max Verstappen’s calendar complaints

Despite his huge success, Verstappen has repeatedly indicated in recent months that he may choose to retire from the sport when his current contract expires at the end of the 2028 season, having arrived on the grid as a 17-year-old in 2015.

The Dutchman has highlighted the expanding calendar as a major concern, with 24 races making up next year’s schedule.

Last month, Verstappen reiterated its stance that the current calendar, featuring six sprint races, asks too much of F1’s competitors, telling Dutch publication Formule.nl: “Has it been enough? Yes.

“I’ve always said 24 race weekends is a lot. It’s not just about the races, but everything around it makes it tough. All marketing activities, the simulator days, the personal sponsorship obligations. In fact, you don’t have any days off left.

“I often talk about that with people around me. Those are all things that factor into deciding how long to keep going. Of course I am glad that I am in the position that I can make those future decisions myself.”

While Domenicali appeared to sympathise with Verstappen’s concerns, the Italian insisted the drivers cannot be allowed to dictate the sport’s direction.

And he pointed to the way that other categories including MotoGP, the premier motorcycling division, have adopted a sprint race format as evidence that F1 is doing the right thing in seeking expansion.

He told De Telegraaf: “I think it’s good that Max gives his opinion. But we can’t leave the sport in the hands of the drivers.

“Not because they can’t be trusted, since we listen to them, but because they have to look at the bigger picture – and they don’t always do.

“Their goal is to go as fast as possible, but we as an organisation are in charge of doing what is best for the sport. And we have done so in recent years, otherwise we would not be in this position.

“As you can see, MotoGP and other sports are also abandoning the traditional approach and we were the first to do so.”

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The calendar has grown hugely since Verstappen first arrived in F1, with just 19 rounds making up the 2015 schedule.

The 2023 calendar had originally been intended to set a new record of 24 races, but the cancellation of the Chinese and Emilia Romagna rounds saw it equal 2022’s tally of 22 grands prix.

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