Max Verstappen sponsor exit explained with future calendar request made – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen looks serious as he talks to media in Las Vegas.

Max Verstappen is already hot favourite to add to his title tally before 2024 has even started.

With another day in the books, it is time to bring you up to speed with the latest talking points from the world of Formula 1.

Max Verstappen’s stock has arguably never been higher, but a major backer of his, Jumbo, has explained their decision to walk away, while the three-time World Champion has been asking for the F1 calendar to be thinned out.

All this and more, so let us dive into the action…

Jumbo to re-focus away from sport after Max Verstappen exit

The association between Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo and Verstappen stretches back even before he joined the F1 grid as a 17-year-old in 2015, but F1 2023 marked the end of this long-standing alliance.

Considering Verstappen just unleashed record-breaking dominance to secure a third World Championship, the move may appear strange, but the firm’s chief executive has now shed light on the severing of ties for all sports sponsorships.

“When you look at the successes of athletes and teams, you have to ask yourself if that suits us,” Ton van Veen told De Volkskrant.

“Max Verstappen is a World Champion. But we are a Dutch supermarket company, not even the biggest. On the world stage, we don’t have much business.”

Read more: Long-time Max Verstappen sponsors explain why they are walking away

Max Verstappen wants lighter F1 calendar

Verstappen has established himself as the dominant force of Formula 1 and is not shy to use his platform to speak out against certain aspects of the series which he does not agree with.

One of those is the calendar, which is set to grow to a record 24 rounds for F1 2024. Verstappen believes that is too high.

“Definitely fewer races,” he told Auto Motor und Sport of his F1 wish. “For me, we have too many.”

Read more: Max Verstappen makes F1 calendar request and highlights major sprint race problems recommends

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Lewis Hamilton deemed only Max Verstappen threat

Ever since the epic 2021 title battle, Verstappen has faced very limited competition in the quest for further F1 title glory, while Hamilton has remained absent from the scene with Mercedes struggling to keep the title-contending challengers coming.

But in the opinion of former F1 driver Christijan Albers, Hamilton is the only driver who could sustain a title fight against Verstappen.

“If you look purely at the qualities of the current drivers, I think Lewis Hamilton is the only one who can come close to Verstappen,” Albers wrote in his De Telegraaf column.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton declared ‘only driver that can come close’ to Max Verstappen

‘Dangerous’ Laurent Mekies to trigger Ferrari exodus?

The workforce at Ferrari has been evolving in recent years, with one of the key figures to depart being Mekies, who stepped away from his race director role to become the new team principal at Red Bull’s sister team, set to rebrand away from the AlphaTauri name for F1 2024.

And according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, Mekies has persuaded Ferrari Driver Academy boss Marco Matassa to also make the switch, and has a catalogue of phone numbers for his Ferrari colleagues, sparking fears the floodgates could open.

Read more: Ferrari worries rise as new F1 2024 ‘danger’ identified amid staff exodus rumours

FIA president wants new F1 teams from US and China

Formula 1 and its governing body the FIA to not appear to see eye to eye on the subject of expanding the grid, F1 seemingly rather cold on the idea, while FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is very much for it.

Prospective United States-based outfit Andretti-Cadillac has received FIA approval to join the grid, while Ben Sulayem then wants a 12th team on the grid that would be based in China.

“If you ask me what my goal or dream is, I’ll say: A full US team with one driver and a full China team with one driver,” he told Motorsport Magazin.

Read more: FIA boss reveals his F1 masterplan involving United States and China

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