Red Bull admit Max Verstappen can join rival team before 2028, on this condition

Max Verstappen has been open about his desire to pursue other opportunities in his 30s, potentially stepping away from the track.

Max Verstappen might be tied into a contract with Red Bull until 2028 but that hasn’t stopped speculation whirling around his future in the sport.

The Dutch driver has been disgruntled in recent weeks about changes proposed by Formula 1 officials, including shaking up the sprint race weekend format, starting at Baku. 

“I’m just not a big fan of it, because I feel like we don’t really race. Okay, there are a few points to get, but you also know that you can’t really risk it because the main race is where you really get the points,” Verstappen told reporters.

“This does not help in my decision to continue after 2028,” Verstappen added in an interview with De Telegraaf.

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“I think that’s way better for the excitement. I naturally, of course, hope that there won’t be too many changes – otherwise I won’t be around for too long,” he reiterated when asked by Portugal’s Sport TV.

Verstappen, who is currently in his mid-20s, has suggested that he could retire from the sport to pursue other activities by the time he turns 31, when his contract expires.

If the Dutchman is truly ready to leave Formula 1, there might be an opportunity for him to step away from the grid earlier than currently planned.

When Verstappen signed his £40 million per year contract with Red Bull, the team’s adviser Helmut Marko revealed it can be voided if Red Bull isn’t able to compete at the front of the grid.

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“If we experience a ‘crash’ like in 2014, when we had absolutely no chance against Mercedes on the engine side, then it’s clear there is an escape clause,” Marko said.

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With Verstappen leading the Drivers’ Championship and Red Bull at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, that option is clearly not available right now but it could come into play when new engine regulations are introduced in 2026. 

Despite the option of an exit clause, Sky Sports presenter Martin Brundle believes Verstappen will not follow through on his threat to leave the sport, especially when he is winning world championships.

“I think what he’s trying to say is, using pleasant words, ‘Don’t mess around too much. Let’s just evolve and massage this along. Don’t keep changing the ground rules’. I get his point on that, but I don’t really see why that would make him stop,” Brundle explained.