Red Bull adviser, Dr Helmut Marko, has suggested that Max Verstappen’s enjoyment is what will determine his future in Formula 1, not his ability to break records.
The Austrian team were trying to help the Dutchman become the youngest-ever world champion when they signed him in 2016, but that record is still held by Sebastian Vettel, so was 23 when he claimed his maiden success.
As were Sir Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, while Verstappen won last year’s title at the age of 24.
Earlier this year, Verstappen signed a new contract with the Milton Keynes-based team that will see him stay there until the end of 2028, by which point he will be 31.
The reigning world champion will be older, more experienced and a perhaps different racing driver by then, and he has previously said that he does not know what he will do after 2028.
Verstappen, at the moment, does not see himself racing into his forties like Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, have all done in recent years, partly because, having started at 17 years old with Toro Rosso, this is now his eighth season in the pinnacle of motorsport.
If he wants to, the 30-time race winner could go on to break Hamilton and Schumacher’s record of seven world titles, he could break the 37-year-old’s record of 103 wins – he already has 30, and indeed Hamilton’s record of as many pole positions.
Those numbers probably sound great, but they are only achievable through relentless work and dedication.
If a racing driver stops enjoying F1, they simply cannot compete anymore, so while Dr Marko is keen to achieve more success with Verstappen, he is not sure how much longer the Dutchman wants to go.
“We want to win more titles together, but I doubt if we will see Max drive until he has broken all records,” the 79-year-old told Sport1.
“He could make it, but he’s also the type of person who packs his things and leaves when he no longer feels like it. No matter how much you offer him, he won’t stay.
“And that could happen sooner than we all think.”
The Graz-born former racer, having watched his driver dominate the 2022 season, feels that he is justified now in comparing him to three-time world champion – the late, great Ayrton Senna.
“Max doesn’t need a build-up phase to be at the limit right away, he can go full steam straight away,” explained Dr Marko.
“That’s just the incredible natural talent, which results in an exceptional base speed.
“In addition, he has fantastic car control, especially when he’s driving at the limit. That’s why I compared him to Ayrton Senna in his early years, although I didn’t make friends with that.
“My good friend Gerhard Berger said at the time the comparison was far-fetched, but today he no longer contradicts the comparison between Max and Senna.”
Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez by 109 points in the championship heading into the 16th round of the championship this weekend in Monza.