Max Verstappen F1 Canadian Grand Prix

Formula One F1 – Canadian Grand Prix – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada – June 18, 2023 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates with a trophy on the podium after winning the race REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

SILVERSTONE, England–Double Formula One world champion Max Verstappen cast further doubt on how long he might stay in the sport, saying on Thursday the expansion of the calendar to a record 24 races was “definitely not helping”.

The 25-year-old Dutch driver’s Mercedes rival George Russell laughed that off, however, suggesting the threat of retirement might be just part a negotiating position for an even more lucrative contract.

Formula One published a 24-race calendar for 2024 on Wednesday running from early March to December and ending with two triple-headers — three races on successive weekends.

“It is too many for me, but we just have to deal with it,” Verstappen told reporters at the British Grand Prix where he is chasing a record-equalling 11th win in a row for his team.

“I think it is a bit more logical the way it’s planned at least, I guess that’s better for everyone,” he said of the distribution of races.

“More things have to come together for me to make my mind up if I stay longer or not. All these things are definitely not helping, for sure.”

The champion has also criticized the sprint format and engine regulations for 2026.

Verstappen, who has a contract to the end of 2028 and has already started 172 grands prix since his 2015 debut, has an 81 point lead over Mexican teammate Sergio Perez in the championship after nine races.

He has won seven including the last five.

Russell, the last non-Red Bull driver to win a race with victory in Brazil last November, joked that Verstappen was “whinging because he wants more money.

“He is the highest paid on this grid and rightly so for what he is achieving but I think it is all a big tactic, his threat of retirement,” added the Briton.

“I hope he doesn’t. I hope he stays for as long as I stay because I want to fight against the best drivers in the world.”

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