Verstappen: I won’t drive in F1 until I’m 40

In 2022, Max Verstappen won a second world title. In an interview, the Red Bull Racing driver summarized the season, assessed the prospects for 2023 and said when he plans to end his career.

Q: Which of your two titles do you like best?
Max Verstappen: I have different feelings about these titles. I was overwhelmed with other emotions as I fought for the first title. Last year we had a competitive car, but the competition was very close. Towards the end of the season it seemed like we were losing to Mercedes so it was great to win. This year’s title seems to carry more weight thanks to more wins.

Q: Were you surprised that your car was fast from the first races in 2022, despite the team spending resources in 2021 finishing the car to the last?
Max VerstappenA: Such results show that our engineers worked somewhat effectively. We spent a lot of time on last year’s car, but at the same time we built a successful one in 2022.

Of course, like any other team, we had to deal with a lot of problems. There was promising data coming out of the wind tunnel, but we didn’t have a benchmark and we didn’t know where we would stand against our competitors. When the car first took to the track, it immediately proved itself.

Q: What are the differences during the season that you noticed between the Red Bull and Ferrari cars?
Max VerstappenA: Our machine is very efficient with high top speed. However, a lot depends on the downforce settings, so it’s difficult to make direct comparisons between the car’s cornering performance and that of a Ferrari. Tire wear has been a key factor with the new generation of machines – we’ve had no issues with it.

Q: How difficult was it to understand the characteristics of Pirelli tires?
Max Verstappen: Rubber was not easy to understand, but over the years we have found an approach to it. Of course, the tires changed every season, but they were still Pirelli tires – the general principles of working with rubber remained unchanged. Sometimes we did better, sometimes worse, but mostly it was due to the characteristics of the car. If the machine is not working properly, there are problems with the tires. There is always a connection.

Q: If you could radically change one thing in the car for next season, what would it be?
Max Verstappen: I would like more comfort while flying. The current generation cars are very stiff – every bump in the track is felt in the cockpit. Driving city roads and attacking curbs is not as pleasant as before.

Q: Who will be your main rival in 2023 – Ferrari or Mercedes?
Max Verstappen: It depends on many factors, because in a sense the cars are still new – they still have a lot of development potential.

As for Ferrari, it is difficult for me to judge their progress in 2022. To what extent is it related to the power plant? What do they do on the team? It is difficult for me to name the main rivals.

Q: You had 15 wins last season. Want a tighter fight?
Max Verstappen: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In certain situations I wanted it, but sometimes it’s nice to dominate. In general, I hope that the fight will become more intense.

Q: Due to the fine, your team will have less time to work in the wind tunnel in 2023. What consequences can this lead to?
Max Verstappen: The penalty will hurt us, but I’m sure the team can handle it and we’ll start the season well. We know where to start and what to work on. If we didn’t know which direction to go in, it would become an even bigger problem. Within a year we will know how much the fine has actually cost us. In 2022 we had a competitive car and if we keep the momentum, everything will be fine.

Q: Your fight on track with Charles Leclerc turned out to be quite clean, which cannot be said about last year and the fight with Lewis Hamilton. What is the reason for this difference?
Max Verstappen: The confrontation with each rider is different. When the title is on the line, you fight for every point. At the beginning of the year you always want to win, but if this is not possible, you withdraw and settle for second place.

After all, there is respect between us. That’s why I don’t think our confrontation with Charles could have ended any other way.

Q: Is it due to you being of the same generation with him?
Max Verstappen: I’ve known him for a long time – we’ve been competing with each other since we were 12. I probably know Charles better than other opponents.

Q: Have you discussed the last race of 2021 with Lewis Hamilton?
Max Verstappen: Not. At the end of the season you leave everything behind.

Q: Do you feel that Red Bull has not received the necessary recognition for winning in 2021?
Max Verstappen: People always remember the last race, but you have to evaluate the season as a whole. It’s important to remember that we’ve been fighting all season. Two teams gave their best.

Q: Is there anything other than Formula 1 that you would like to do?
Max Verstappen: Endurance races. I don’t know what kind of car I’m driving yet. I want to wait for the full bloom of the hypercar classes and evaluate the competitiveness of the factory teams.

Q: Are you waiting for Le Mans?
Max Verstappen: I would like to start this race someday, but not now.

Q: What can you say about another legendary race – Indy 500?
Max VerstappenA: No, I mentioned before that there are no ovals. I have a lot of respect for the drivers who race on such circuits, but after a career in Formula 1 has ended, I don’t want to put myself in danger. Of course Formula 1 is also dangerous, but if you find yourself in a concrete wall on an oval, there is not much fun about it.

Q: You have a contract with Red Bull until 2028. Can you imagine being in another team?
Max Verstappen: I have no such plans, at least at the moment. I will be 31 when my contract with Red Bull ends. I don’t know if I will continue my career after that or not. I still have a few years to think about.

Q: So you don’t see yourself driving in Formula 1 at 40?
Max Verstappen: I’m definitely not staying in Formula 1 that long. At some point there are too many races in Formula 1 and you don’t have any fun anymore. In addition, a lot depends on how competitive we will be in 2028. If we’re still that fast by then, it would be stupid to stop.

Source: F1 News

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