Max Verstappen has hoped for more in 2019 and he expresses his dismay.
Max Verstappen is, despite being only 22 years old, a friend of direct talk. Nonsensicality is foreign to the Red Bull pilot from the Netherlands. He proved this once again in a recent interview with his hometown newspaper “De Telegraaf”:
“I’m two tenths faster than Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc in the same car,” Verstappen proclaimed self-confidently. He continued:
“For example, I looked at Leclerc’s pole lap in Singapore and I realized there was room for improvement. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but as a driver, you always have to think you’re the fastest.”
“I’ve done better in some races this season than what I have available with the power of my Red Bull, and I think we’ve been a lot farther from the top than it looked.”
“Actually, until Singapore, I thought we could go for the title in 2020. I don’t think so anymore at the moment.”
“We still have to push harder to go forward as a team than we have done so far. We are not where we need to be; we haven’t made the jumps forward that would be necessary. “
Red Bull chief advisor Helmut Marko (76) smiled when he heard Verstappen’s statements. Marko to Auto Bild Motorsport and F1-Insider:
“In part, Max is right, well, he has twice ended a race in the first corner, but that can happen .. We at Red Bull want drivers with their own opinion, which they should express – so that’s not a problem.”
But let’s look at Verstappen’s statement a bit closer. Are these elaborate steps to prepare Verstappen’s departure from Red Bull, even if it doesn’t work out with the title in 2020? Consider that his contract runs out at the end of that season.
It fits neatly that his father Jos found even harsher words for his son’s situation:
“We should be closer by now, but it’s harder than expected,” Jos Verstappen lamented on Dutch TV “Ziggo”.
“It is very frustrating that we had a couple of good races before the summer break, but stopped after the summer break while others made more progress.
“Max can’t do much at the moment, we depend on the team.”
“Put Max in a good car, and he’s going for the championship!”
“We’ve been at Red Bull for a few years now, and it doesn’t look like we can fight for the championship next year.”
“We are a bit behind when it comes to the car and engine. We have to work on these two things if we want to fight for the championship next year.”
He explained that he could notice the frustration building up in his son because of the lack of progress and missing results. They both expected to be much closer to Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019.
That the criticism comes just ahead of Honda’s home race should hit the Japanese hard. They will surely interpret it for what it is – a clear warning.
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.