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Russell: Verstappen’s 2024 F1 calendar "whinging" is about money

Mercedes’ George Russell has cheekily suggested Max Verstappen’s complaints about Formula 1’s expanded 24-race calendar are a negotiating tactic with Red Bull for a higher salary in his next contract.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

The 2024 schedule was released this week and is set to feature a record total of events, which has been the subject of much discussion ahead of the British Grand Prix.

As part of that, Verstappen said for him 24 races was “too many” but added that “we just have to deal with it”.

This follows the Dutchman saying back in Australia in April “I won't be around for too long” regarding his opinion of the latest changes to F1’s sprint race weekend format and his preference for F1 events to centre on full-length GP competitions only – comments that were interpreted in some quarters as a quit threat.

When asked why he seemed unhappy with several aspects of current F1 and if he really is considering quitting once his deal with Red Bull runs out at the end of 2028, Verstappen replied: “It's more things that have to come together for me to make my mind up if I stay longer or not.

“But yeah, all these things are definitely not helping.”

On the subject of F1’s expanding calendar and Verstappen’s comments, Russell said his position by contrast is that “I’m doing what I love and I’m almost [feeling] ‘the more the merrier’ to a certain extent”.

On the specific reason behind Verstappen’s remarks, Russell, smiling as he did so, replied: “I think he’s whinging because he wants more money!”

But Russell then went on to say the Red Bull driver is “the highest paid on this grid and rightly so for what he’s achieving”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“But I think it’s all a big tactic of his – [the] threat of retirement and whatnot,” Russell added. “I hope he doesn’t and I hope he stays for as long as I stay – because I want to fight against the best drivers in the world.

“I’m fighting head-on-head with Lewis [Hamilton, his Mercedes team-mate] at the moment, I want the chance to do that with Max and with Charles [Leclerc] and Lando [Norris].

“And I think we’re in a really great place at the moment as a sport.

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“But I think it is challenging – we can’t keep adding more commitments, more races. More, more, more.

“There’s got to be a point that if you’re adding something, somewhere something has got to be taken off.

“And maybe, I know for myself at the moment, we’re just adding more races, we’re not having less commitments.

“So, you’re working overtime and I’m confident and pretty sure that’s the case as well at Red Bull.

“If we [drivers] didn’t have any other commitments, we’d be happy to race every weekend I’m sure.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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