Max Verstappen has suggested the rapidly expanding Formula 1 calendar may encourage him to step away from the sport.
A record 24 races will be held in 2023 with the arrival of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and while that number is limited to 25, that could change in 2026 when a new Concorde Agreement will be signed.
The calendar can be brutal in what it expects of teams and drivers with them being asked to travel across the world in a short space of time, leaving them with fewer and fewer opportunities to be at home with their family and friends.
One man who knows that all too well is newly-crowned two-time World Champion Verstappen, who has been competing since he was 17 and even before then in junior series.
The Dutchman, who is now a quarter of the way to beating Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton’s record of seven Championships, has previously suggested he has no interest in staying in the sport that long and reiterated that belief to Channel 4.
He told the broadcaster he did not want to be travelling the world as much as he is by the time he reaches 35 and that he actually enjoys spending time at home.
“It’s not about the number of championships or whatever,” he replied when asked if he had a target in mind. “It’s also a quality of life.
“We are going to more races. I have a contract until 2028, I’ll be 31, so I do think about if we are heading into this direction with more and more races, do I really want to continue this until I’m like 35? Probably not.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) October 10, 2022
“Because there’s so many more fun things as well I want to do outside of Formula 1 and I don’t want to be travelling almost my whole year being away from family, friends.
“So I see myself doing this for a few more years, and of course definitely till the end of the contract. But then I’ll definitely make my mind up if I really want to continue to live this lifestyle because it’s very demanding.
“I like to be at home, I really love being at home, and being away so much it’s sometimes a bit painful.”
Former F1 driver Felipe Massa was sceptical though and suggested Verstappen may feel different if he was asked at the start of the season compared to the end of it.
“I would [say Verstappen is] now top five easy [of all time] but he can be number one,” the Brazilian told Channel 4. “He has all the talent compared with Ayrton Senna, [Juan Manuel] Fangio, Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, so he’s there.
“These questions [about retirement], at the end of the championship, are always easy to answer like that, but Max loves to drive.
“He loves to be in the car, he loves to race. I don’t really see him stopping his career at 31, 32 years old. I think he goes on.
“It depends how things go. It depends the car he has, it depends the possibility he has to fight for the championship. This weighs a lot for the decision to stay long or not.”