Russell: Verstappen's calendar talk a ploy to earn more money

SILVERSTONE, England -- George Russell has said suspects Max Verstappen's criticism of Formula One's expanding race calendar is simply a negotiating tactic to earn more money on his next contract.

Two-time champion Verstappen, who leads this year's drivers' standings by 81 points after nine races, has been critical of some recent decisions made by F1's management, including the addition of six sprint races this season and the expansion of the calendar to 24 races next year.

The 25-year-old, who has a contract in place with Red Bull until the end of 2028, has hinted that he may choose to leave the sport if it continues to expand , although he said on Thursday that he has not yet decided on his long-term future in the sport.

"There are more things that have to come together for me to make my mind up to stay longer or not, but these things are definitely not helping, that's for sure," he said when asked about the expanding calendar and rule changes for 2026.

Russell, who is the same age as Verstappen and races for rivals Mercedes, suspects Verstappen has an ulterior motive for his criticism of the sport.

"I think he's whinging because he wants more money," Russell said. "He's the highest paid on this grid, and rightly so for what he's achieving, but even so I think it's all a big tactic of his, that threat of retirement.

"I hope he doesn't, I hope he stays for as long as I stay because I want to fight against the best drivers in the world. I'm head-to-head with Lewis [Hamilton at Mercedes] at the moment and I want to be doing that with Max and Charles [Leclerc] etc. and I think we're in a really great place at the moment as a sport.

"It is challenging, we can't just keep adding more commitments, more races, there's got to be a point where if you are adding something somewhere, something has got to be taken off.

"Maybe at the moment we're just adding more races and not having less commitments, so you are just working overtime. I'm sure it's the same at Red Bull as well but if we didn't have any other commitments we'd be happy to race every weekend I'm sure."