F1 News: Max Verstappen Likely to Have 'A Year Out' According to Insider

Max Verstappen is speculated to possibly take a sabbatical in 2026, as suggested by Karun Chandhok.
May 5, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (1) reacts after
May 5, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (1) reacts after / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

According to recent insights from former F1 driver and Sky Sports analyst Karun Chandhok, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen may consider taking a sabbatical in 2026.

Formula 1 will welcome significant changes in 2026 with new technical regulations, especially around the development and implementation of power units. Three-time F1 champion Max Verstappen is said to be considering a pause from Formula One for a year. During an appearance on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Chandhok commented:

“There’s some really unusual things happening. Then you’ve got [Carlos] Sainz and [Max] Verstappen. We would never have thought of Verstappen leaving the team until all of the stuff unfolded around Red Bull in Bahrain. It is a really strange market, a difficult one to read.

“Increasingly I think Max will stay at Red Bull for 2025. I think he will take 2026 off and have a year out. See what happens and then in 2027, he can go anywhere couldn’t he? He’s talked about his ambitions of doing le Mans and other forms. I think he will do something in 2026, have a year off, see who hits the ground running with the new regulations.

“Lewis [Hamilton] would have done his two years at Ferrari, Max can go there in 2027, go to Mercedes in 2027, go back to  Red Bull in 2027. I think that could happen.”

Chandhok went on to discuss Sainz's future. The Spanish driver is set to be replaced at Ferrari in 2025 by Hamilton, leaving Sainz without a confirmed seat for next year. Chandhok added:

“His is a complicated one. He wants a two-year deal at Mercedes. It seems like they’re offering a one-year deal with an option maybe for the second. If Verstappen comes knocking then he’s out.

“That’s a risky move because you’re basically going to a team where you’re effectively holding a seat for Verstappen or Antonelli. They’re having you as a stop-gap. In ‘25, based on current form, you think they’re not going to win the championship.

“Do you really go there? The Audi project is fascinating. There’s a lot of money being pumped into it, they’ve unlocked a whole lot of budget.”

Lydia Mee


Lydia is the lead editor of F1 editorial. After following the sport for several years, she was finally able to attend the British Grand Prix in person in 2017. Since then, she's been addicted to not only the racing, but the atmosphere the fans bring to each event. She's a strong advocate for women in motorsport and a more diverse industry.