Revealing he at times asks himself if F1 is “still worth it”, Helmut Marko wouldn’t be surprised if Max Verstappen retired when his current Red Bull contract expires.
But even if he does extend it, the Austrian doesn’t believe the driver will be racing at 41 like Fernando Alonso.
Verstappen has spoken in the past about his longevity in Formula 1 with the double World Champion making it clear there are other things in life he wants to do away from the F1 circus.
Max Verstappen won’t be racing at 41, says Helmut Marko
Currently in the middle of a long-term deal with Red Bull, and thoroughly enjoying at least one aspect of Formula 1 he romps from one win to another, Verstappen’s contract expires at the end of the 2028 season.
And that could be it for the 25-year-old.
Marko told Motorsport-Magazin.com: “I don’t think he’s a guy who will drive as long as an Alonso, for example, but will be someone who says at some point: ‘That’s it.’
“It certainly depends on how the sport develops.”
Verstappen has often criticised Formula 1’s growing calendar, the sport increasing that to 24 races for next season.
Speaking to De Telegraaf recently, he said: “It shouldn’t just be about money. People might think: ‘he makes a lot of money, what is this guy whining about?’ But it’s about well-being, how you experience things, and not how much you earn.
“I sometimes think I have to do too many things. Then I sometimes think: ‘is this still worth it?’”
He went on to speak about the time constraints he faces, such as Thursday’s media day while there is “also simulator work” and he reckons he spends “more than a month a year on marketing.
“At some point, you no longer feel like doing that,” he added.
Verstappen has been in prolific form this season as he has raced to 10 wins from 12 races with the driver sitting on eight in a row from Miami through to Belgium, putting him just one victory away from equalling Sebastian Vettel’s record for the most wins on the trot.
With 10 races remaining, he’s on course to break his 2022 record for the most wins in a season, while also scoring the most points ever.
There are also two Michael Schumacher records up for grabs from the most podiums in a row, which sits at 19 with Verstappen on 13, and the earliest championship success, that also belongs to Schumacher who in 2002 won the title with five races remaining.
And if Verstappen continues his dominance, which Lewis Hamilton fears could last another three years, he could be on six World titles by then and chasing the record of seven.
“What’s the record? Seven titles? The fascination, the passion has to be there for him,” Marko says.
“One mustn’t forget: Before every race he has to be in the simulator for at least one day. He has reduced PR and marketing obligations, but there are still some.
“He has to maintain and build up his fitness accordingly. There is relatively little free time left Time.”
With the pressure to be the best and win races and World titles always on, when or if Verstappen tires of it, Marko accepts “then he only does something that he enjoys, where the pressure is away.”