Verstappen hunger will determine future F1 title quest

Max Verstappen does not know for how long he will have the hunger to compete in F1

Max Verstappen does not know for how long he will have the hunger to compete in F1 – Image: Charles Coates/XPB

Max Verstappen is refusing to target the seven F1 title haul of Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton on the basis he does not know how long his desire to compete in the sport will continue.

At the age of just 26, the Red Bull driver now has a trio of championships to his name, sparking claims he could comfortably surpass Schumacher and Hamilton, providing he has the car beneath him.

In clinching the hat-trick, Verstappen joined a list of illustrious names to reach such a mark – Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, and Ayrton Senna.

As to how many more titles he has in him, he said: “Depends a lot on the package, right? That’s how Formula 1 works.

“Personally, I’m still young, even though I’ve been in F1 for a while, and definitely, I have quite a few more years in me to be able to operate at my best.

“But we’ll see how long that is. To be honest, I think it’s more about how long I want to be here. That’s different.”

It is not the first time Verstappen has indicated he will not carry on ad infinitum, particularly with the way F1 is evolving with the increased number of grands prix, and with the growing number of sprint events, two factors he has previously bemoaned.

Verstappen recognises there may come a day – sooner rather than later – when his hunger wanes.

“I think that’s normal,” remarked Verstappen. “At one point I think you’ve had enough. I think everyone, at one point, has that if you realise your body can’t handle it anymore.

“In some sports, you have to accept that, and you have to just retire, but for sure, at one point, you might want to do other stuff or race a bit less, absolutely – but not right now.”

With 49 wins to his name, and five grands prix remaining this season, there is every possibility Verstappen will move beyond the 51-victory haul of Alain Prost, and the 53 of former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.

That would leave him in third on the all-time list, albeit a long way short of Schumacher’s 93 and the 103 of Hamilton.

Verstappen concedes that as and when his F1 career comes to an end, he will be content with around 70 wins.

“Of course, I want to win as much as I can,” insisted the Dutchman.

“I know that from third place (Vettel) to second (Schumacher) is quite a big gap, so I hope maybe in my career I might end up somewhere there in the middle. That would be nice.

“I don’t know, it depends a lot on what’s going to happen in the next few races and the next few years as well.  I don’t know how long this is going to last. I’m enjoying the moment and that’s very important.

“I’ve achieved more than I could have ever dreamed of. We’ll see where we end up but it’s already way more than I ever thought I could achieve. So it’s perfect.”

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