In the wake of a weekend where he was the most vocal critic of the Las Vegas GP among drivers, another Red Bull champion’s sudden announcement feels particularly poignant
When Max Verstappen, the Formula 1 champion, meets Kalle Rovanpera, the World Rally champion, at the FIA’s Prize Giving Gala in Baku this year, Verstappen might feel a slight hint of envy. This has nothing to do with the comparison of their respective disciplines, but rather with a significant decision that Rovanpera has made and which aligns with something Verstappen has often mentioned. Rovanpera, the youngest champion in WRC history, secured his second consecutive title with a round to spare at the age of 23. However, he surprised everyone by choosing to step down to a part-time program in 2024, opting for a break to recharge and take some time off. Rovanpera explained that while he may seem young, he has already been driving rallies for a long time, about six to seven years in various categories, and he feels it’s the right moment for a rest. The similarities between Verstappen and Rovanpera are apparent, as both are sons of former world championship drivers, were nurtured from a young age, and were labeled as future champions before reaching the top level. Verstappen, who has expressed doubts about the longevity of his career in F1, may also have reasons beyond the disillusionment with certain aspects of modern F1 that he often talks about. Ultimately, Rovanpera’s decision serves as a reminder that, despite his young age, he has already dedicated many years to rally driving at a semi-professional level.