Max Verstappen reveals he could definitely make F1 when his contract at Red Bull expires

Max Verstappen revealed last night that he could leave Formula 1 at the end of his current contract.

The 24-year-old world champion has signed a £40m-a-year deal that ties him to Red Bull until 2028, taking him just past his 31st birthday. But, sitting on the team’s floating platform in the port of Monaco, he speaks for the first time of retirement.

“The plan is to stay here until 2028,” said the Dutchman, who leads the Championship ahead of this weekend’s legendary chase around the cramped principality.

Max Verstappen has revealed he could leave Formula 1 when his contract expires

Verstappen wouldn't be the first driver to retire early from the sport if he chooses to do so

Verstappen wouldn’t be the first driver to retire early from the sport if he chooses to do so

“I don’t plan to change teams. I’m happy here and they’re happy with me. But I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do after 2028. I could quit.

“I’ve been in Formula 1 since I was 17. It’s been a long time. I did a lot of seasons in F1. I may want to do different things. At 31, I don’t know if I will have peaked or where the drop in performance may have occurred.

“I want to do other types of races, endurance races for example. Maybe I’ll get tired of traveling all the time. Maybe I’ll want an easier life and just do the shopping I love.

“Whenever an opportunity arises to win a championship, you want to take it. If I’m in a fight in 2028, it might be stupid to stop suddenly. It’s hard to know.

My God, how that kind of talk ages us all, but Verstappen came into this world so young that he raced in Formula 1 before he was allowed to drive on the roads of Belgium, where he lived then. He is also 13 years younger than the Englishman he propelled to the title last year, Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had an epic battle for the Formula 1 world title last year

Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had an epic battle for the Formula 1 world title last year

They both live in Monaco – well, Hamilton theoretically does, although he seems to spend a fair amount of his free time in the US.

Verstappen points past the Grimaldi Palace, high on the rock overlooking the race track, to his apartment in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of a country smaller than New York’s Central Park.

Hamilton’s pad isn’t particularly close and they haven’t met to break bread as the Englishman unconvincingly suggested during their acrimonious 2021 title fight.

They are opposite in character – Verstappen homepun; Hamilton is a ‘sleb’ globetrotter – and when last season’s winner yesterday told the losers they get on ‘absolutely’ well now, that’s a comment that should be served with a pinch of chloride sodium.

“I wouldn’t say you forgive and forget, but as a driver you forget,” said Verstappen, who won his title at the last round in Abu Dhabi in December. “What happened in the past, you forget about it and focus on what lies ahead. We haven’t really talked about last year. It’s from the past.

Verstappen can afford nonchalance about Hamilton because his fight is not with him this season. The champion has won four of six races so far and now leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by six points.

Verstappen has continued to thrive this season and currently leads the standings

Verstappen has continued to thrive this season and currently leads the standings

Losing him would be a blow to team principal Christian Horner, given his racing quality

Losing him would be a blow to team principal Christian Horner, given his racing quality

Leclerc, so quick over a lap in his red rocket but error-prone, is the favorite this weekend.

Hamilton, battling his super-fast Mercedes team-mate George Russell, complained he “lost his mind” in a bouncing car during yesterday’s practice. He said he needed elbow pads to protect him from shaking.

Mercedes have improved since their early season malaise, but team principal Toto Wolff’s exclamations of having a world championship-winning car in Spain last week were a bit of a stretch. Honeyed words intended as balm for Hamilton’s battered psyche.

Verstappen does not need such nourishment in this purple stain of his career. He claimed victory here last year and enjoyed the winner’s dinner with Prince Albert and Co, as is customary. A tuxedo is required for the occasion. Easy to oblige when your wardrobe is on the go.

This is all part of the mythology of Monte Carlo which is under threat. This edition marks the last race under the current contract. Formula 1 owners Liberty Media want the Automobile Club de Monaco to modernize the venue.

Charles Leclerc and Verstappen look set for an intriguing battle on the track this year

Charles Leclerc and Verstappen look set for an intriguing battle on the track this year

Well, up to a point. But, remember, Liberty would never have bothered to buy the sport if this little place hadn’t put auto racing on the world map.

“Monaco is crazy in terms of history,” said Verstappen. ‘It’s different. It is special. Maybe the race itself won’t be the most exciting, depending on the weather, and sometimes something crazy happens. But Saturday’s qualifying is the culmination of the Monaco Grand Prix.

“Looking on TV you can’t see how narrow the track is. You have to visit it to see how amazing it is. Then you can see how crazy and stupid we are.

Monaco GP qualifying, LIVE on Sky Sports F1 at 3 p.m., highlights on Channel 4 at 10 p.m. Race LIVE on Sky Sports F1 tomorrow at 2pm, highlights on C4 at 6.30pm.

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