Max Verstappen targets an endurance test outside F1 in next ‘two or three years’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen in qualifying. Zandvoort September 2022.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen sat in his cockpit. Zandvoort September 2022.

Max Verstappen has reiterated his desire to compete outside of Formula 1 in the future, revealing he is targeting a debut in endurance racing within the next three years.

The 25-year-old won a record 15 races over the course of the 2022 season to clinch his second consecutive World Championship, but has raised doubts over his long-term participation in F1.

Verstappen has repeatedly claimed that he may stop at the end of his current contract with Red Bull at the conclusion of the 2028 season, by which time he will be 31, having made his grand prix debut in 2015 at the age of 17.

Endurance racing has long been a path taken by former F1 stars, but in recent years there has been a trend of current drivers balancing their grand prix commitments with appearances at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours race.

Nico Hulkenberg won the event for Porsche in 2015 while racing for Force India in F1, while Fernando Alonso claimed victory for Toyota at the Circuit de la Sarthe during his final season as a McLaren driver in 2018.

At 41, Alonso will begin his 19th season in F1 in 2023, but Verstappen has rejected the idea that his F1 career could last as long.

When asked if he could envisage himself racing at Alonso’s age, he told Viaplay F1 Talks: “Definitely not [Alonso’s age]! Not in Formula 1, who knows what else.

“But I definitely want to do endurance at some point. Maybe still a few more years, two or three years before I want to do that.”

Verstappen admitted his eagerness to fast-track the start of his endurance career is driven by a desire to share a car with 50-year-old father Jos, who made 106 F1 starts between 1994 and 2003.

“He’s getting too old and I want to do it with him,” he added.

Despite his reluctance to elongate his F1 career in the style of Alonso, Verstappen spoke of his admiration for the Spaniard’s passion for racing.

“He is fast and he’s still very motivated,” Verstappen said. “Every time I talk to him, it’s like talking to a 30-year-old who is still in the middle of his career.”

“He loves it. That’s why he’s doing it.”

The quality of his car will determine how long Verstappen’s career lasts

Already a two-time World Champion at 25, there is an argument that Verstappen is only just getting started in Formula 1. So what exactly is behind this sudden habit of casting doubt over his future?

Is there a danger that he will become bored of winning if there are too many repeats of his dominant 2022 season? Or, having started so young and burned so brightly, does he really feel that his motivation will reach the end of the runway not long after he reaches 30?

It all seems so out of step for a driver once described by former Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as a ‘racing nerd’, whose time away from the circuit is spent racing on the same circuit at home on his simulator.

Priorities change over time, of course, but Verstappen is not the only World Champion to try and downplay how much F1 really means to him.

There was a time when both Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen vowed not to hang around like a bad smell, only to become the two most experienced drivers in the sport’s history and race well into their 40s.

Having become accustomed to a certain level of success at such an early age, the true length of Verstappen’s F1 career is likely to hinge on the quality of his car.

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