‘Max Verstappen should either pack up and leave or just accept it’

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, looks right. Bahrain, February 2023.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, looks right over his shoulder. Bahrain, February 2023.

Ralf Schumacher has told Max Verstappen to either accept F1 changes or leave the sport following the Dutchman’s recent comments.

The two-time World Champion has been at the forefront of criticism when it comes to changes to the traditional F1 schedule as the sport’s bosses continue to make adjustments.

This weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix sees the introduction of the ‘Sprint Shootout’ format which reduces the number of practice sessions to one and has a separate qualifying session for both the sprint and the race proper.

But Verstappen has warned that continually adding to his workload may make him rethink his long-term future in the sport with him already having suggested he may walk away when his current Red Bull deal ends in 2028.

Schumacher, who started just 14 more grands prix than Verstappen currently has, had some firm words for the Red Bull man, telling him to accept it and stop moaning – or quit.

“The past, the present and the future have shown or will show that Formula 1 is much bigger than any one individual,” Schumacher told Sky Deutschland.

“Bernie Ecclestone is also gone and without him Formula 1 wouldn’t even exist and yet now it’s more successful than ever.

“So Verstappen should either pack up and leave or just accept it as it is. But I do understand his attitude because there are a lot of risks. But still, he gets paid to do it.

“If he wants to go, then he should go. As much as I love him, it won’t kill Formula 1.”

There was one aspect that Schumacher, who won six races in a career spanning 11 years, and that was the nature of the multiple restarts in the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.

“I agree with [Verstappen] on that point. It’s a huge burden for the driver,” the 47-year-old said.

“We saw the consequences in Melbourne when you try to do too many starts.”

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Life as an F1 driver entirely different now than during Ralf Schumacher’s day

It is telling that Ralf Schumacher raced for 11 years and yet, Verstappen has taken to the track just 14 times fewer than the German.

This odd stat is a visual representation of how much more demand is placed on an F1 driver these days.

The maximum number of races Schumacher drove in a single season was 19 whereas Verstappen has driven that number or fewer in just two seasons, including the COVID-struck 2020 campaign.

What’s more, the F1 calendar has become more brutal than ever with a record 23 races and numerous triple headers in locations that are not even remotely close to one another.

Then there are the off-track demands made on a driver. At no point was Schumacher instructed by regulations to spend time with fans before sessions and there is the media, social media and sponsors too to worry about.

Schumacher may feel it is easy to just get on with it but the reality is, no one but Verstappen himself knows the kind of pressure he is under.