Max Verstappen believes he is entitled to speak out against the increasing demand of the Formula 1 schedule, which makes him question whether he wants to carry on.
With Formula 1 experiencing a popularity boom of the likes the series arguably has never seen before, that has meant a far-increased demand for places on the calendar, and the need to ensure the product continues to appeal to the audience, which is becoming increasingly younger and featuring female viewers.
From F1 2024 the calendar will rise from the current 22 rounds to 24, which CEO Stefano Domenicali has declared as the limit, while sprint races have been introduced at selected race weekends as the series tries to find the ideal format for this evolving audience.
Max Verstappen says it is about ‘well-being’ not ‘money’
Despite now being well on his way to a third World Championship title in as many years, Formula 1’s dominant force has consistently suggested that his already glittering career may be shorter than many have anticipated.
Contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2028, Verstappen has cast doubt over the prospect of him extending his career beyond that year, or perhaps not even seeing that deal out as his Formula 1 commitments continue to increase.
As Formula 1’s highest-paid driver, with a reported salary of $55 million, some would say Verstappen is getting paid very well for the sacrifices, but he responds to said people by stressing this is not about the “money”, but rather his “well-being”.
Quizzed by De Telegraaf on his critical take on the direction Formula 1 is taking, Verstappen said: “Yes, because I care about the sport that I always really liked. And still like it, but to a certain extent.
“It is also not that I am completely against changes, as is sometimes claimed. But they have to be changes that benefit Formula 1. Why do you need to change certain things if things are running well? I think a traditional qualifying session is set up just fine in that form. 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?'”
Max Verstappen zones in on further areas for complaint
As it turns out, it is not the expanding calendar or the amount of travelling involved contributing most significantly to these feelings, but rather all the additional activities which take place beyond racing a Formula 1 car.
“Marketing” then is a word which Verstappen would probably gladly never hear again if he had his way.
“That’s not the biggest problem,” Verstappen replied to the suggestion that the bulging calendar and travel demands are his main concerns. “For me, it’s more about what I have to do on top of it all.
“A Thursday before a race weekend is sometimes already quite long, although it depends a bit on where we are. Outside the grand prixs, there is also simulator work. But I spend more than a month a year on marketing, for example. At some point, you no longer feel like doing that.”
Marketing a must for drivers like Max Verstappen to reap the rewards
At the end of the day, a major reason why Red Bull can pay Verstappen the big bucks, on top of what he earns from his own endorsements, is thanks to the millions being pumped in by sponsors.
Naturally then, they expect Red Bull and their drivers to do their part in making this investment worthwhile for them.
Verstappen may say it is not about the money, but ultimately, the financial luxuries of their support are not going to come for free per say, and so such commitments will always be there and only become more time consuming considering Verstappen is the hottest property in Formula 1 right now.
Clearly the simulator work is not hurting Verstappen either judging by his on-track dominance, this a driver who spends a good chunk of his free time competing in the world of virtual racing.
It is a situation then which can be seen from both sides. It is easy to see why Verstappen would feel the squeeze of such demands for his time, yet understandable why many would stress it is just part and parcel of what he does, to an extremely high level.