Max Verstappen has been warned that is premature to start thinking about whether he can challenge the records set by Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. The Red Bull driver won his second World Drivers Championship last weekend with a victory in the Japanese Grand Prix but has been told by Ralf Schumacher to focus on the present rather than think about what he can achieve in the future.
Verstappen is already one of the most successful Formula One drivers of all time despite being just 25 years old. He is sixth in the list of all-time race wins having drawn level with Fernando Alonso in Japan following a season which has seen him stand on the top step of the podium 12 times in 18 races. He needs to win just two of the final four events to claim the record number of Grand Prix wins in a season, taking the crown from Sebastien Vettel and Schumacher.
Naturally, the focus has already started to turn to what the Dutchman could achieve throughout the rest of his career. It appears increasingly feasible that he can match the seven world titles won by both Schumacher and Hamilton, while the Brit’s record of 103 race wins will also be in his sights.
However, Ralf Schumacher has warned Verstappen not to get ahead of himself given the unpredictablity of Formula One – but he also conceded the Red Bull star had the talent to challenge at some point in the future.
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“He’s only 25 years old, but I still think it’s a bit premature to start thinking about whether he can challenge Lewis Hamilton and Michael’s records,” Schumacher wrote in his column for Sky Germany. “I don’t think Verstappen is looking to do that yet either. That’s still a long way off. In terms of driving ability, of course, he can definitely do it, there’s no doubt about that.
“But we also know in Formula 1 it also depends on factors the driver can’t always influence.”
Verstappen himself has also poured cold water on speculation he could continue to compete long into the future in order to challenge the records set by Schumacher and Hamilton. The Dutch has suggested the packed Formula One calendar is likely to accelerate his retirement plans.
“It’s not about the number of championships or whatever,” he told Channel 4 when asked if he had a particular title target in mind. “It’s also a quality of life.
“We are going to more races. I have a contract until 2028, I’ll be 31, so I do think about if we are heading into this direction with more and more races, do I really want to continue this until I’m like 35? Probably not
“Because there’s so many more fun things as well I want to do outside of Formula 1 and I don’t want to be travelling almost my whole year being away from family and friends.”
Verstappen will have the opportunity to level the record for the most race wins in a season next weekend as the Formula One circus travels to Texas for the US Grand Prix. It remains to be seen how many more records he will collect during his time in the sport despite being told to focus on the present.