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What Verstappen's outlook on racing in F1 says about his next move

Given he's the reigning Formula 1 champion, settled at the best team with a lucrative, long-term contract until 2028, Max Verstappen's future has received a curious amount of attention lately.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

With Verstappen caught between ongoing power plays at Red Bull and team principal Christian Horner's now public rift with his father Jos, speculation is rife on whether among the fallout the Dutchman could end up leaving Red Bull before the end of his deal.
It isn't clear yet whether the latter scenario could even become a possibility, but several talks in Bahrain between Jos and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff did nothing to put the brakes on it either.
Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, how Max Verstappen sees his future in the series might well impact any decisions left to be made.
As he has stated several times, he is not planning on enjoying a two-decade career in the series like Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton, leaving the door open for an early F1 retirement at the end of his current Red Bull deal in 2028, when he will only be 31.
He has identified several factors behind that thinking, including the human toll of a 24-race F1 calendar, which he feels is "way over the limit", further time constraints caused by his PR commitments and the desire to pursue other avenues in life.
"I know very well what I want outside Formula 1," Verstappen said before the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"It has more to do with the quality of life in general. The racing itself is great fun, but everything around it with the travelling, marketing and so on, at a certain point you might be done with it. Then it doesn't matter what you earn.
"In the end, it's more about being happy with what you do. You have to be able to give 100 per cent. At the moment that is not a problem at all, but at some point you have seen it all maybe.
Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

"I have a lot of things that I'm already working on for the future, things outside of Formula 1. I also want to be able to go on holiday when I want to."
If at the age of 26, these thoughts seem to have crept up on Verstappen earlier than most drivers, it is worth remembering he has been fully committed to racing since he was a child, trotting to numerous karting events around Europe with his father as he was effectively raised to become an F1 driver.
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"I know I'm still very young, but I also know that I'm not doing this for another 10 years. From my side this is not sustainable," he explained.
"From the age of eight or nine I've been living with a full schedule. At some point you think if it's still worth it going away from home for 24 race weekends a year, plus simulator days and all the marketing days.
"Those are the aspects drivers don't really enjoy, but you do them because it's part of the job. But at some point, you might be done with that."
Verstappen doesn't believe he will fall into a black hole after calling time on his F1 career, and while he has ruled out racing on ovals in IndyCar, competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours has always appealed to him.
Perhaps even with his own team, having already laid the groundwork for the so-called Verstappen.com Racing GT3 squad to start running in 2025, with the eventual goal racing at the highest level of endurance and giving chances to sim racers to make the transition to the real world.
"Some drivers are so focused on Formula 1 that they just want to do that for a long time and they might also be afraid of missing something in their lives once they quit F1," he suggested.
Max Verstappen and Thierry Vermeulen, Emil Frey Racing, Portimao Test

Max Verstappen and Thierry Vermeulen, Emil Frey Racing, Portimao Test

Photo by: Verstappen.com / David Klopman

"But I don't have that idea. I want to be more at home and I want to busy with other projects, which I can direct a bit more closer to home.
"I'm busy with sim racing itself but also bringing sim racing to the real track. Hopefully, next year we can already see something and then I want to build on that project."
Meanwhile the Dutchman has been busy making F1 history, taking the record for consecutive race wins as well as victories in a single season in 2023.
But while he is not interested in sticking around to make up the numbers, equalling or surpassing Michael Schumacher's and Lewis Hamilton's seven world championships is not his main focus either.
"Maybe someone's goal is to become an eight-time world champion, but I am already very happy with and proud of what I have achieved in F1, which is more than what I could have ever dreamed of," he said.
"I don't have to stay for seven or eight world titles. Once I quit, it doesn't matter whether I've been world champion three, five or seven times. For me the book is closed and it's done."
Verstappen's outlook is in no way related to the much larger machinations going on at Red Bull at the moment.
But if question marks over Red Bull's ability to hit the ground running with its in-house power units from 2026 prove correct, and serious enough to give up a likely leading Red Bull seat for the 2025 season, then it would go some way towards explaining any drastic moves by the Verstappen camp.
If Verstappen were to get stuck with an uncompetitive engine for the final years of his contract, the relentless life in the F1 circus might drive him out sooner rather than later.

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