Formula 1: Max Verstappen says what others may not want to admit

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images) /

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen admitted the main reason why he has no desire to compete in the Indy 500.

The Triple Crown of Motorsport has been somewhat of a hot topic over the last few years following two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 debut in 2017.

Alonso, a two-time winner of Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix, attempted to check off the second box of the Triple Crown at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he had a shot to do it, leading 27 laps early on after starting in fifth place. But a late engine failure knocked him out of the race, and he was scored in 24th.

He did not return in 2018, but he did check off that second box, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time that June. In 2019, he returned to Indy, only to fail to qualify in dramatic fashion. He returned again in 2020 with no risk of being bumped, but he was never competitive en route to a 21st place finish.

Only one driver, Graham Hill, has ever managed to win all three events.

With the Monaco Grand Prix not even guaranteed a spot on the Formula 1 schedule in 2023, reigning world champion Max Verstappen, the race winner in 2021, may be one of the final few drivers to have the opportunity to win all three races.

However, don’t bet on him trying.

Verstappen hasn’t ruled out competing at Le Mans, but he has ruled out competing in the Indy 500, at least for the time being, admitting that he finds it too dangerous for his liking and isn’t willing to take that risk. Here is what he had to say about the matter, according to ESPN.

"“I’ve no desire to chase the Triple Crown. At least, not Indy. I appreciate what they do. It’s insane, these drivers. … I have a lot of respect for what they achieve there, but for me, especially being in F1 for such a long time already, I don’t need to risk my life there and potentially injure myself, your legs, whatever. It’s just not worth it anymore, let’s say like that.”"

It’s a stark contrast to his comments from 2018 when he stated that he would only want to try Indy or Le Mans when he is “old and slow”, comments which drew plenty of criticism, as you might expect.

Of course, whether or not the Indy 500, or IndyCar in general, is any more or less safe than Formula 1 is up for debate — and that’s pretty much a good thing when you consider how safe both are.

But there is naturally something about heading straight toward a wall at 240 miles per hour that would make even the best of drivers a bit uneasy. And there’s something to be said about straight-up admitting that’s why one would be unwilling to take on the challenge, rather than a simple “I have no interest” like we’ve heard in the past.

Three years ago, 2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg said something similar to Verstappen, admitting, straight-up, “I’m just scared. I’m scared of doing Indy.”

Both drivers’ comments are vastly different than those of Lewis Hamilton from 2017. Hamilton, who had ruled out running the race himself, drew worldwide criticism for his infamous remarks and was called a “coward” when he took a shot at the talent level in IndyCar after Alonso qualified in fifth place, ahead of several series regulars.

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But even Hamilton later admitted that it is “quite scary approaching those banks at the speeds that they do”. He has, however, entertained the idea of running a NASCAR oval race.