Max Verstappen told Formula 1 doesn’t need him

A new sprint format will be introduced this weekend at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher has stated that the sport will continue to grow even if reigning World Champion Max Verstappen retires at a young age, something he’s threatened to do several times.

Verstappen’s current lucrative deal at Red Bull is due to expire at the end of 2028, by at which point he’ll be just 31 years old.

However, the 25-year-old has threatened to quit should “too many changes” be made to the sport’s format, with Verstappen very much being an F1 traditionalist.

The double World Champion is firmly against sprint races and the new sprint format in general, which has been tweaked again ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

“I hope there won’t be too many changes,” said Verstappen, “otherwise I won’t do it. I won’t be here for long.”

Schumacher actually agrees with Verstappen that too many changes are being made to the pinnacle of motorsport and that it could reach a point where it becomes too much for the drivers.

The German noted that the recent Australian Grand Prix was proof that too many pressurising moments can become a “huge burden”, with the most recent race having seen three standing starts.

“I agree with him on that point,” Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. “It’s a huge burden for the driver.

Article continues below

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

The brother of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has therefore told Verstappen to quit if he is truly unhappy with the format but that at the same time he does “understand” why the Dutchman is as frustrated with the sport as he is.

Schumacher believes Verstappen’s retirement won’t have a big impact on the sport, though, with it being “much bigger than any one individual”.

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

READ: Team principal tells Lewis Hamilton Red Bull don’t want him because of Max Verstappen

“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.

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