Max Verstappen F1 retirement talk fuelled with ‘sooner rather than later’ prediction

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Max Verstappen's eye with the visor of his helmet open during F1 pre-season testing

Max Verstappen is debating 2025

Former F1 driver David Coulthard fears Max Verstappen will retire “sooner than later” despite his astronomical success with Red Bull over recent years.

Verstappen has established himself as one of the greatest drivers in F1 history over the last few years, becoming only the second man – after Red Bull icon Sebastian Vettel – to win his first three World Championships in successive seasons.

The 26-year-old will aim to replicate Vettel’s achievement of four in a row in 2024, having won 44 of the last 66 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning campaign in 2021.

Max Verstappen to retire sooner than later?

Verstappen consistently claimed throughout last season that he will likely retire young, having made his F1 debut as a 17-year-old back in 2015.

Speaking to Spanish publication AS last May, Verstappen pointed to the demands placed on drivers as a motive for walking away before his time – but teased that he would struggle to walk away if he remains successful.

Asked if he will still be in F1 at the age of 40, Verstappen replied: “Yes, but possibly on the yacht. Watching the race.

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“I would say not [in the car]. But never say never. I think I’ll be on the boat having a drink.

“I already have many plans that I want to do outside of Formula 1, but we will see. If I have a competitive car it will be very difficult to say goodbye to this sport.”

Pressed to elaborate on the factors that could potentially drive him away, Verstappen said: “The time you spend beyond the time you spend in the car. You travel a lot, you have a lot of commitments throughout the year and you know where you have to be at all times, when as a driver what I like is to race.

“It’s what I did when I was little, what I’m passionate about, but you know that in F1 everything around it is part of the sport.

“It is the least positive [aspect]. Ideally, I would just drive. But it is not possible.”

Coulthard, who finished his career with Red Bull in 2008, believes Verstappen’s quit threats should be taken to seriously, pointing to Vettel’s marked decline before his retirement in 2022 as evidence that drivers who start young burn out faster.

He told Total-Motorsport.com: “He arrived in a blaze of potential, won his first grand prix for Red Bull, had a few learnings along the way, which is inevitable irrespective whether you are a [Ayrton] Senna, [Michael] Schumacher, Verstappen or a [Lewis] Hamilton [but] he’s rounded off into the complete package

“So [at] 26 years old, he’s arguably got at least another good five years in him.

“Some people go off the boil a bit earlier. I think Sebastian Vettel could be an example of that.

“He [produced] really exceptional performances in the early phase of his career. Then, I think, he was just a good racing driver towards the end of his career.

“These are only opinions, but they are opinions backed up by [his] relative performance to his team-mates.

“Max, I think, will be a force in Formula 1 for as long as he wants to remain in Formula 1.

“Do I see him still being in Formula 1 at 39 or whatever age Lewis is now? Personally, I don’t.

“Then again, I’m not the fountain of all knowledge or the great predictor, but I think he’s just been so immersed in getting to Formula 1 and achieving in Formula 1 from such an early and intense phase of his life.

“I would be surprised if he doesn’t, sooner rather than later, decide that he’s had his fill and that there’s a lot of other things he would like to discover in life.”

Coulthard is convinced that F1 will continue to thrive in a post-Verstappen era, arguing that the sport managed to retain its appeal even after the death of three-time World Champion Senna in 1994.

He explained: “Formula 1 continued to grow after the loss of Ayrton Senna, arguably one of the greatest and certainly one of the most charismatic drivers of his time.

“So the reality is, with the greatest respect to any single individual, life has a habit of continuing on and moving forward and Formula 1 has continued to capture the public’s imagination.

“It’s the fastest form of circuit racing. It’s a mixture of technology, politics, sport and outright performance with the human endeavour.

“The gladiatorial aspect of a driver strapping themselves into 200mph machines has, I think, always resonated with a wide demographic and I think it’ll continue to do so.”

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