“I believe in the project”: Verstappen responds to Marko’s fears he could leave

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen responded to Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko’s warning that their star driver could leave the team by reaffirming his faith in their partnership with Honda.

Marko was quoted last week saying he was concerned Verstappen may seek to join another team as Red Bull are not competitive enough at the moment.

Asked about the report by RaceFans at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Verstappen said he believes the team are making progress with its new engine supplier Honda.

“Of course we all know that we need to do better,” said Verstappen. “But I believe in the project we are in together with Honda.

“So we are just working hard now to of course step up the performance. We’ll see in the upcoming races where we will be because if you get a bit more power, a bit more balance in the car, then suddenly it looks a lot different.”

Verstappen said fifth place in the Canadian Grand Prix was the best result available to the team even though he failed to reach Q3 on Saturday.

“Of course it’s not where we want to be. Still if you’re not happy you need to get the points and that’s what we are doing. But at the end of the day even if I would have started P4 the end result would still be P5.”

However he acknowledged the RB15 chassis is not as competitive as last year’s car.

“In Monaco we were the second-best team,” he pointed out. “I knew this track was not going to be great even though last year we were quite competitive.

“I think [last year] our car was quite a lot better than the Mercedes and the Ferrari. And now I wouldn’t say we are superior to them so it automatically becomes quite hard over here.”

Verstappen played down the significance of his father, former F1 driver Jos, sharing one report of Marko’s quotes on Twitter: “I’m the driver, not my dad.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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54 comments on ““I believe in the project”: Verstappen responds to Marko’s fears he could leave”

  1. Is Reno about to overtake the rb Honda in the Pu power battle,. That would be a larf

    1. Modern-era Honda were most likely never ahead of Renault. However, the recent results may indicate that Renault have out-developed Honda with their newest spec for the first time in quite a while.

      1. True but with Renault I always have the feeling the sacrifed to much reliability to get there…. Im expecting some engine breakdowns the next few races.

        1. I also have that feeling, but I rather a fast unreliable engine than a slow reliable one.

  2. But I don’t see where he could go at the moment. Hamilton will be in the Mercedes for a while, vettel and Leclerc are at Ferrari. Unless he wants to join Ricardo at Renault. However I believe as soon as a seat should open at a top team, he’ll be off

    1. really funny to read all those F1 fans comments saying “can’t see where he would go, Lewis is at Mercedes and Vettel at Ferrari” Don’t you know Mercedes, like the great legend R.I.P. Niki Lauda said “we wanted to sign Verstappen during the 2017/2018 summerbreak, but RedBull gave him a much improved offer”

      If Verstappen gets on the market, you’ll bet Mercedes AND Ferrari are going into a bidding war to get this guy. After all, he is the biggest talent, still 21 years young, on the grid. Allready as good, or maybe better then Lewis, who has the luck to be in the fastest car for the last 5 years.

      Toto is in love with Verstappen…..and Ferrari needs Verstappen to make them champions again. Vettel won’t do it and Leclerc can’t do it.

      Any topteam wants to have the best driver drive for them, certainly if the driver is only 21 years young and can drive for another 15 years for your team.

      1. Leclerc can and will. Ver can just wait around like the rest of the grid to get their hands on a car that can deliver a championship.

        1. I’m not so sure about Leclerc anymore. A Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo or Alonso would have pushed back to the treatment Leclerc is having. The messed up strategies and strategy sacrifices to keep him out of Vettels hair.
          Im not saying he should get angry at the team but like “losing you patience publicly” once will definitely send a signal to Ferrari.
          He should realise he allready has his seat and if he performs well (which he is doing) he can call out the team on a few occassions.

        2. @Ross,
          How come people are so prone on Leclerc beating Vettel…1-6 in quali and Vettel being the better man in most races is showing the opposite. Leclerc is a great talent, in the future probably a suitable successor to Vettel, but right now he’s the 2nd driver. On top Leclerc and Verstappen raced together in jr series and Verstappen always came out on top…Leclerc is doing fine, but not on Vettel’s level just yet

          1. Leclerc already has his name in the pole ledger and would’ve easily won Bahrain had it not been the expiration of his engine. If Ferrari actually had their head in the game this year it would be a much tighter championship battle than it is right now. We’ll see after the season but my personal opinion is that Leclerc will be ahead of Seb at the end of the year, and leading the Ferrari teams title bid next year.

      2. Yes. If nothing dramatic happens over the next 12 months Max will be courted by the top three teams. And I expect the choice for Max will be Ferrari or Mercedes.
        I could see Vettel retiring at the end of 2020, and if they don’t snag Max, and Leclerc hasnt quite reached No 1 status, I can see then chasing Hamilton.

        1. I don’t see Max leaving RBR until after 2021 when he will have seen where each team appears to stand in the new chapter. Why move before 2021 when that would be on a hope and a prayer that he made the right call? I see Max at RBR/Honda through 2021 at a minimum.

        2. Hamilton will probably retire, if Merc gets the 2021 regs wrong and is not delivering a championship winning car. I doubt he’s gonna gamble on another team at this point.

      3. Hamilton will not have VER and as long as he is winning WDC’s Mercedes will not upset the apple cart. After all, Merc has already stated they don’t want another toxic atmosphere as they had with ROS and HAM.

        Do they not know how bad a pairing those two would be? Hamilton is looking at 5 more years in F1 and is getting closer to Schuey’s 7 WDC’s. Merc want him to be in their car when it happens. Sorry Jos.

        And Ferrari isn’t breaking his door down either. They have a prodigy in one of their seats at this time. When Vettel does leave, they will look at more seasoned candidates such as RIC, PER, BOT. And then there is Schuey Jr. Still too young but if he steps up his game he will eventually end up in one of their seats – that’s why they signed him.

        Like it or not, Max’ best option at this time is at RBR and he knows it which is why he isn’t complaining. And this is why F1 sucks. There simply isn’t enough competitive teams for the amount of talented drivers. And when drivers like HAM and VET (with Kimi) have a say in the matter, it narrows down even further.

        VER’s success is dependent on Honda. This was supposed to be a year where they would pass Renault and be at least as competitive as last year winning podiums. Evidently things aren’t peachy creamy enough and Jos is acting up again.

        Being a great driver doesn’t always equate to good rides in F1 as Alonso can testify. If it happened to him it can happen to Max.

        1. I do not think ric (already missed his opportunity) or per or not are the real deal.
          Ricci is by far the best of those three, and Noone wanted him.
          He had to settle for a b team.
          Lec lacks a lot of experience and Ferrari is not a driving school for talents and never was. Bot already shows signs of Bottas 1.0 returned.
          So next year there are two places available to max. But he believes in Honda and the future with them. Understandable merc will probably quit in a few years, and Ferrari always is a Hornet nest.

          1. If Ferrari want RIC or whoever, they will get him.
            LEC is a future star and if not for Ferrari’s screw ups strategy wise he would be ahead of VET. He isn’t leaving anytime soon.
            VET will finish his contract in 2020, same as RIC. Perfect timing.
            VER carries baggage, notably his father. We will see what happens but I’m betting whether Honda improves or not, he’s stuck with RBR.

  3. If Max is that good (better than Lewis, who has the luck to be in the fastest car) then he does not need to be driving for the Silver Arrows to be great.

    1. @lums do you think that you can win Championships while driving a car which is not the best one? Or let me stretch this: driving for a team which is not the best one?

      1. Answer to both questions: Hardly, but not impossible.
        My question to you: Do you think you can win multiple championships for different teams, after many regulation changes and no no.1 status in the team, piloting best car on the grid? or let me stretch this: what are the chances of an average driver landing in the best car on the grid, winning multiple championships?

    2. @lums Hamilton would have had a few pole positions with that Red Bull by now.

      1. This is just trolling

        1. @anunaki Why? Ricciardo managed it. If you’re going to make excessive claims about Verstappen, it’s par for the course.

          1. @david-br

            The redbull car is simply not good enough to get pole positions this season. Not even at Monaco.

            So claiming someone would’ve got pole on more than 1 occasion must be trolling or stupid. And I don’t think your stupid

          2. @anunaki Thanks, so give me the benefit of the doubt: I was referring to previous seasons, not this specifically. I’m well aware it has been impossible so far this season (maybe Max would have a chance with a wet qualifying session). Overall I’m just saying that claiming MV is a better driver than Hamilton when he has yet to score a pole, yet alone a championship, is too much. Potential, who knows?

          3. @david-br
            Not wading in the argument of who’s better, Lewis or Max, but there is a difference between “best” and “more/most successful”. Someone can be the best, especially in F1 (and even more in this period of F1), without being the most successful.
            Messi is by many regarded as the greatest player ever, without being the most successful.

          4. Oconomo
            That’s true but my argument is that you can’t actually assess how good Verstappen is yet because he hasn’t had to deal with the full range of challenges, including competing for a championship, the pressure of ensuring pole when you have the car to do so. Both Vettel and Hamilton pass that test. Can Verstappen? In terms of speed and skill versus Lewis, I’m also unsure. Maybe a touch more speed, but a touch less control – which perhaps amounts to the same thing. None of that means that I’ve been less than really impressed by him this season, I think he’s developed a lot. He needed that combination of calmness and ruthlessness that goes with his talent and seems to be achieving it. A litmus test would be an Ocon-type situation from last year, where he had no need to close down Ocon immediately in the Senna corners at Interlagos, but wanted to make a point, needlessly, and lost the race.

          5. @david-br I’m pretty confident that Max has already shown that he can win in a third place car in the WCC, so give him the WCC car with fewer cars to have to deal with like all front runners have, and I think everyone will be eating his dust.

            You are making a mistaken assumption that Max was wanting to make a point against Ocon. He simply had no reason to expect a lunge from a backmarker, as it is simply not done, and is why Ocon received a penalty. Max had every reason to expect he had a clear path to take whatever approach through that corner he wanted, without a backmarker challenging him, even when that backmarker was trying to unlap himself. Simply, front runners, and particularly race leaders, are not to be challenged by backmarkers and that is what Max expected. Had Ocon so much more pace that he could have unlapped himself, then it was toatally up to him to do so without disturbing the race leader in any way. A clean drs pass at the end of the next straight would have done the same thing but been respectful of the way it works in F1, and respectful of the leader. Ocon showed no such respect during and after the incident in spite of being in the wrong and penalized.

          6. Hi @robbie we’ve gone over the Ocon incident before. Lewis’s point to Verstappen was the wise one: you should have waited and passed him on the straight. It’s not a question of who was right in the situation, it was the predictability of Ocon still fighting for the corner. If Max didn’t expect it, but others did, then he has something to learn, right? As for putting him in a WCC car, let’s hope it happens.

          7. @david-br Yes we have gone over the fact that of course LH was always going to side with Ocon on the issue. And that Ocon would have never done to LH what he did to Max. And there is the fact that no matter what LH said about the actions of a fellow Mercedes man, Ocon was penalized. The onus was all on Ocon to not interfere with the race leader. The onus was not on Max to foresee that uniquely in the history of F1 he as the leader was going to have to fight a backmarker and pick a better spot to pass him. As the penalized one, Ocon hopefully has learned a lesson about unlapping himself properly so he doesn’t get a penalty again, assuming he’ll be back in F1.

            As to Max in a WCC car in the future? It is inevitable, imho.

          8. @robbie Obviously any comment between LH and MV is open to interpretation, my feeling wasn’t that he was siding with Ocon, actually more that he respects Max a lot and wanted to give some advice. Remember that Ocon expected to pass Max, tried to, Max accelerated and defended into the first corner. I agree Ocon could and maybe should have backed off then, but Max should have realized he was suddenly in a fight for position (yes with a backmarker) and been cautious into the second corner – for his own sake. It seemed to me he wanted to make a statement to Ocon (‘don’t do that again’) rather than prioritizing the race and being extra careful. Ocon would have had no excuse to race the race leader on the straight, a few seconds later.

          9. @david-br Personally, I think LH’s eagerness to advise Max was more to needle him and subtly put the blame on him. Based on innuendos we’ve heard from LH about needing to steer clear of Max, I think LH sees him as a tough, perhaps unpredictable (although that unpredictability had already subsided greatly after Monaco) competitor that is going to be even moreso with a better car.

            Wrt Max as far as he was concerned he owned Ocon after that first corner and had every reason to expect to be left alone to his line of choice for the second apex, based on the rules, history, and plain old etiquette and respect toward the race leader, a respect Ocon would have paid to LH.

    3. @lums I believe a more appropriate term is simply ‘privilege’, not luck. Luck indicates fortune that the affected person has no influence over. Lewis was given a choice to go to Mercedes and made the calculated decision of taking it.

      1. I agree, my response was to a comment made by ‘JI’ but some how, i missed the ‘reply’ button. see below.

        If Verstappen gets on the market, you’ll bet Mercedes AND Ferrari are going into a bidding war to get this guy. After all, he is the biggest talent, still 21 years young, on the grid. Allready as good, or maybe better then Lewis, who has the luck to be in the fastest car for the last 5 years.

        1. Ahh okay my apologies. Still it is unfortunate to see JI and others lazily boil any driver’s long-term successes down to “luck”. Whatever helps them cope with it, I suppose…

  4. Max isn’t going anywhere for next year, and since all teams would love to have him he can then see how RBR/Honda does with the totally new and different cars from 2021, and then take it from there. By 2021 I think all the ‘have’ teams will have a pretty equal shot at nailing the new regs, so Max will be able to decide things when the lay of the land reveals itself. So far things have been going well with Honda and it looks like onward and upward for them.

    1. “since all teams would love to have him”

      I think you’re delusional. He’ll be at RBR like it or not for several more years. Now way in hell he’s going to Merc until HAM leaves. Case closed on that one.
      If Red wanted VER they wouldn’t have hired LEC. When VET leaves they will pair him with a veteran such as RIC, HUL or BOT – basically whoever they wish.
      Further, Red sees how Max and Jos (especially) act when the team doesn’t perform up to their expectations. Too much baggage – same as ALO if not worse.
      Lastly, in a couple of years if Schuey Jr. shows promise a seat will be waiting. Ferrari feels obligated to Michael for all the years of glory he brought them.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    11th June 2019, 12:29

    Okay let’s say he could leave. Where’s he going? Anywhere other than a Ferrari or a Mercedes is a backstep. (Arguably so is Ferrari but that’s debatable) I can’t see Merc/Ferrari changing their drivers any time soon, so…

    Also there is still the possibility Red Bull & Honda will make a step forward. Red Bull’s chassis work generally is good and Honda’s engine seems to be improving, so it doesn’t look as unlikely as it did with McLaren. Verstappen’s probably pretty relaxed; where he is looks positive and both of the only teams ahead of him would be interested in him in the future – just not now. So basically put he could leave, but he won’t.

  6. As yet unproven levels of brilliance aside (see some posts above), Verstappen would clearly be signed by any team who could afford to the fee. He’s a multiple champion waiting to happen. But as Alonso knows all too well, the path has to be very carefully chosen. I’ve little doubt Verstappen in a Ferrari this year would be making a respectable job of keeping close to the Mercedes. But are Ferrari ever going to properly sort themselves out? Mercedes look the best option for someone of Max’s ambition/talent. It depends if he has the patience to sit out another one or two years to see of Red Bull can return to championship level with Honda. Especially with the big changes coming up, it may be worth it.

    1. “unproven levels of brilliance ”

      What about a full year of being unbeaten by any team mate, Ricciardo and Gasly…
      Or a full year of never crossing the finish line in a lower position than started…

      These are pretty impressive stats

      1. Matn, mind you, in the case of Ricciardo, it was compounded by his retirement rate being at 40% in the 15 races between Monaco and the end of the season.

        Furthermore, Red Bull did later confirm that, as soon as Ricciardo confirmed he was heading to Renault, they began excluding him from some of the technical briefings between the engineers and the drivers and restricted his access to some of their telemetry data.

        The reason Red Bull gave was that they wanted to protect their intellectual property and didn’t want Ricciardo to be able to take information to Renault, but those restrictions on access to data did have the consequence of making it harder for Ricciardo to set his car up, making it a slightly skewed comparison.

        With regards to Gasly, the problem is that we really don’t have a clear picture of how good or bad a driver Gasly really is. The only other two drivers Gasly has driven against was two races with Sainz Jr in 2017, plus one season with Brendon Hartley in 2018. The comparison with Sainz Jr is difficult, since you can only compare two races, with Sainz failing to finish either race, whilst Hartley was also a rookie and one whom we have few reference points for.

        That said, Hartley’s junior career in single seater cars was on the weaker side – he was 3rd in British Formula 3, but was beaten by both of his team mates (Alguersuari and Turvey), only had a handful of points scoring opportunities in the Formula 3 Euro Series (finishing 11th in the championship) and fairly indifferent results in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series (highest ranking of 7th place in three seasons). I believe that he was also hammered pretty conclusively by Ricciardo when the two were team mates in junior series.

        By the time that Hartley was recalled by Red Bull, he’d not raced a single seater car for six years and really seems to have only got the job because he was basically the only driver Red Bull had available who could get a superlicence – I do not think he was the toughest opponent that Gasly could have faced.

        If I’m honest, Gasly’s performances in junior series hasn’t convinced me that he is a stunningly quick driver either. There were some series where he placed reasonably highly, but it looked like he did so more out of consistency rather than outright pace – for example, when he took part in the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship, he finished 2nd that year, but failed to win a single race that year (whereas, for example, Merhi in 3rd place won 3 races, but also had more retirements).

        Gasly might be at Red Bull now, but it was very much a case of getting the position by default – you sense that Red Bull weren’t going to get rid of Ricciardo in favour of Gasly, and Hartley was never going to be promoted to Red Bull in given he was clearly being used as a stop gap.

        He’s done OK, but I think a lot of people would offer scant praise for Gasly by saying that he’s “doing OK” – he’s basically getting the bare minimum results that you’d expect somebody in one of the big three teams to get, if that. True, Verstappen is beating him fairly handily, but to be frank I expected that – as much because I’m not hugely convinced about Gasly and think that he is being a bit oversold on the freak result he secured for Toro Rosso in Bahrain last year.

        1. All the excuses for Ricciardo…. while RB and Ricciardo themselves insist there was no preferential treatment inside the team, fans keep on saying the opposite… Sure Dan suffered from DNF’s which influenced the total points tally, but he was behind in near every quali and every race since Canada… He was behind on pace, not cause of excuses…and that’s no shame in itsellf.

          As for Gasly, it wasn;t expected he would be a treath, but to be this far behind…?
          In 2018 he scored two nice P4’s, which seemes to be better than Leclerc could manage…
          i think the only driver that could be a realistic treath to Verstappen is Hamilton…. Vettel could make his life hard, but is on Dan’s level….good, but not better

          1. Yup have to disagree with anon wrt DR and set-ups. There would be no need to keep any of that kind of data from him nor would the team harm his ability to drive the car to the best of his abilities for the team. Setup work would be unique to that car and nothing DR could take to Renault that would give him some sort of advantage on a different car in a different year than he had in 2018. That I am aware of there was never any hint whatsoever from DR that he was being hindered from ideal setups. Max consistently outqualified DR and out-did him in other stats too, last year and previous years.

      2. These are pretty impressive stats

        Yes they are, but they’re not the levels I was referring to.

    2. A bit off topic, but Alonso is much referred to as picking the wrong teams, but that is not the case. McLaren was a disaster, true, but with Ferrari if he had some more luck he would have claimed some titles as well.

  7. I think he sounded very mature in those quotes. And why shouldn’t he. Already in one of the best cars. He can wait and see how Honda progress this year. If they do a good job I wouldn’t be surprise Red Bull Honda could dominate the next few years. If the progress isn’t there then I also wouldn’t be surprise that behind the scene Mercedes had already make contact and sounded out their interest. He could potentially have the best teams to choose from this winter or next. Unless of course if he really want to break Vettel’s youngest champion record then he might need to hurry up. I doubt it’s the most important thing in the long run though.

  8. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
    11th June 2019, 16:58

    At the end of the day Max wants a winning car. And if RB and Honda don’t provide it this year, he could look somewhere else. Hamilton might replace Vettel should he retire and max to mercedes. I’m not sure what mercedes will do, with bottas.

    1. @passingisoverrated But I really doubt Max was expecting a winning car this year, being their first year with Honda, albeit them being with STR last year which would have helped RBR for this year. And I can’t see LH leaving his WCC winning team that have provided him with all those WDC’s to go to a team that continues to lag.

      I feel pretty confident in saying that Max will at a bare minimum be with RBR through the first year of the new chapter in 2021 so that he can then assess who has nailed the total car revamp and who hasn’t. Making a move before then would be him blindly gambling on who might be the team to go with in the new chapter and he doesn’t need to do that at all. There is every bit as much a possibility that Max is already on the most desirable team for 2021 onwards, as that it will be Mercedes or Ferrari, or who knows even Mac or Renault.

  9. Only time will tell.

  10. If Renault can get within 0.3 seconds of pole, can only imagine what red bull could have achieved with the same engine. Honda’s slogan should be ‘the power of nightmares’.

    1. That will be the nightmares, abiteboul already has.

  11. What Max manages to accomplish with inferior iron is tremendous. Give him a top-tier car and he wins races regularly.

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