Could Max Verstappen be forced to miss the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP?

Max Verstappen won the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and finished second in 2021.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen has ruled himself out of Thursday’s media duties at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after postponing his flight after a bout of illness.

Verstappen was granted permission by the FIA to fly a day later than usual, with the Dutchman set to return to the paddock on Friday, rather than Thursday.

The 25-year-old shared the news on social media, where he revealed that he’d been suffering from a “stomach bug” but is now “feeling fine again”.

“Feeling fine again, after not being fit for a few days because of a stomach bug,” Verstappen wrote on Twitter.

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“Therefore, I unfortunately had to postpone my flight for a day, so I won’t be on the track until Friday. See you in Jeddah!”

Red Bull shortly after Verstappen’s tweet posted a message of their own, where they explained that the FIA had agreed to give the double world champion Thursday off.

“Max has been suffering from a stomach illness over the past few days and, with the agreement of the FIA, will not be present at track today,” wrote Red Bull on Twitter.

“Feel better, Max.”

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Verstappen will be hoping to have overcome the worst of his illness bug ahead of free practice on Friday, given that it could make for an uncomfortable ride.

The Dutch driver enters the Saudi Arabian GP in sensational form, after winning the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix with ease.

Should Verstappen win just as comfortably this weekend, then many will likely turn their attention to the fight for second in the standings.

The Red Bull star isn’t expecting an “easy task” at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, though, despite winning in Saudi Arabia last season.

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“After a great start in Bahrain I don’t expect it to be an easy task in Jeddah, it is a completely different circuit and needs the car to be quick,” Verstappen said in Red Bull’s press release.

“Nevertheless, with the high-speed corners, I do believe we can have a strong car around this track. The track changes that have been made are mainly for visibility, so hopefully it has improved things a bit for us drivers, as it was definitely dangerous in some areas.

“It’s a really cool street circuit, with quite a lot of grip, so I always enjoy going back there to race.”