Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko, 2019

Red Bull feared Mercedes would move to sign Verstappen

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In the round-up: Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says the team moved quickly to extend Max Verstappen’s contract because they feared Mercedes might try to sign him.

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Comment of the day

Should Honda have enlisted HondaJet to help fix their power unit problems sooner?

There is nothing wrong with admitting or asking for help. In fact this is really disappointing that they didn’t discuss this sooner. But large organisations can inherently have challenges, especially when it comes to communication.

Happy that they’re making better progress and a real shame that McLaren weren’t able to benefit.

Happy birthday!

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On this day in F1

  • 55 years ago today Graham Hill won the non-championship New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe driving a Brabham-Climax

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “Red Bull feared Mercedes would move to sign Verstappen”

  1. And yesterday Williams announced “partnership expansion” with Sofina Foods, owned by Michael Latifi, Nicholas’ father.

    1. Came to say the same thing. Also Lavazza may be a well known brand, but what is less well know is that it is also a part of the Sofina empire.

      1. Lavazza is a private (Italian) company as far as I recall.
        Sofina Foods has merely the distribution rights for Canada. @geemac

        1. @coldfly It is still a Latifi linked company is all I was getting at. The press release simply suggests Lavazza supports Nicolas’s racing exploits when the situation is actually a bit more nuanced than than…

  2. Great news Dieter, now you should be able to get a good cup of coffee with your full-english.

  3. On this day; that would have been part of the “Tasman” series that brought the F1 teams to Aus. and NZ in the N.hemisphere off season.

  4. “On this day in F1” makes me wonder why we can’t have non championship rounds in F1 again? How wonderful would it be to try new race or qualifying formats, or test a new tire compound, in front of millions of people? Maybe they could host it in cities that are proposing to be future venues (e.g. Miami) You know, I’m so into the idea of it that I’d even tune in to watch them experiment with Bernie’s sprinkler idea!

    1. because it’s less interesting. i know i’d be less interested

      1. @nickthegreek bet you are fun at parties… ooh lets wrap it up everyone, the invite did say 8-1 and its 1:02!!!

        I agree with the Dolphins. The only reason it isnt a thing is because the calendar is already packed full of races (some really crappy) and cost.

    2. I don’t think these races would be less interesting as nickthegreek suggested, but just look at the calendar. There simply isn’t enough space for such an event when teams have relatively short time to prepare for the new season during winter – the mechanics and engineers are working hard on the new cars and there simply isn’t any way of how to take two or three weeks of their time (with all the preparation), transport all the staff and equipment to the race destination…not when the new owners push on expanding the calendar which is a bad idea in my opinion. If we had a season from mid-March to an early November, then yes, I could see a non-championship race happending during the break. Not under these circumstances.

  5. Jonathan Parkin
    9th January 2020, 4:54

    Forgive me for coming over all turbo nerdy, but whilst the Australian GP organisers are confident the race will go ahead, it still remains a temporary circuit. It has to be built. Have they factored that into the equation?

    1. @Jonathan Parkin Probably, yes, although I’m no thoroughly sure what you’re implying there. The build-up process has just began over the last three days.

    2. Considering it’s their job to do that, yes?

  6. It seems Red Bull are taking the rumors of Hamilton’s move to Ferrari seriously.

    1. Well, Lewis has hinted about it several times… so whatever it is, it is not an unrealistic scenario

    2. It looked to me like both Mercedes and Ferrari had left a place open in their 2021 lineup for a driver like Lewis or Max. While Max has been signed by Red Bull, that still leaves Lewis who hasn’t signed a 2021 contract.

    3. GtisBetter (@)
      9th January 2020, 9:51

      They didn’t know how credible they were, but just to be sure they signed Max.

      1. I think Marko is right to fear losing Max, especially to another top team, and especially the dominant team.

        However, I also don’t think Max was ever going anywhere else while things are ramping up so well at RBR. Max just seems too happy at RBR, grateful as well, and stoked to be there. Without being a fly on the wall I’m speculating of course, but both of Max’s contract extensions, in 2017, and now, have the feel to me like he went to them to extend out of a desire to be there, just as much as they went to him to ensure they retain him. So in that sense ya ok Marko perhaps you woke up one night in a cold sweat having had a nightmare about Max going to Mercedes, but then you realized that was never on for Max and Max was not going to wait around to see if LH would go to Ferrari (unlikely imho) so that he could then go to Mercedes who, again imho, may have neared the end of their dynasty ahead of the new gen.

        No I think Max is very happy to work with his F1 family that has and still is raising him, with Honda coming on strong, and with a team that really nails their operations and management, strategies and pit stops, and if all that weren’t attractive enough, they have the mega-genius Adrian Newey. Why would Max leave all that and hand it over to someone else, only to have to go rebuild from scratch somewhere else?

        After all, he has implied he wouldn’t want to be at Ferrari, and it is highly unlikely Merc would place him beside LH, so as if Max would just be putting himself in hover mode waiting/hoping LH goes to Ferrari so free up his seat? Nah, Max has done exactly the right thing for himself.

        2021 is everyone’s guess anyway as to who will be the team of desire for the drivers, but neither here nor there as the new regs are meant to close up the field as well as close up the cars. There may never be another dynasty like MS/Ferrari, SV/RBR, or LH/Mercedes, but in a closer series that is more about the driver, I’d say Max has as good a chance as anybody of being the next dynamo in what should be a much tighter series of harder fought Championships than we have had in the lift and coast, cruise to preserve tires era.

        1. Well Redbull already knows what its like to lose a class driver. I don’t think they want to be in that place again anytime soon.

          Speaking of which Ricardo is still a class act, that’s why he was hired for RedBull in the first place. I’d be surprised if he remains where he’s found himself. Imagine him driving for Ferrari with something to prove.

  7. As F1 heads to down under in two months should Hamilton as a star driver and all the F1 community together be part of helping out Australia. F1 is going more green in the future so what could be better to show F1 cares about inviroment than saving the forests and animals.

    1. Not sure the Pirellis are up to that level of thermal degradation.

      Seriously though, you’re right, @qeki. Liberty are conscious about messaging and their public image, so they will no doubt be considering the dual – and distinct – aspects of a) the PR (and other) risks racing in Australia b) the PR opportunities of being seen to do something in Australia.

      1. Ahaha jeez phylyp
        Well played

    2. F1 is beholden to its shareholders and it’s not the caretaker of australian forests. if australia wants to fix its own mess, it should start by prosecuting arsonists.

  8. I thoroughly agree with the COTD. Honda indeed should’ve resorted to the help from the Jet-Division sooner. Perhaps, then Mclaren wouldn’t have left them, and thus, would’ve benefitted from the improvements the Red Bull-teams have since enjoyed.

    1. Yep, and McLaren should have never partnered Alonso with a new engine manufacturer, and Renault should have poored more money into the engine development, and Bernie should have left F1 a decade ago, and….
      Hindsight, a beautiful thing!

    2. @jerejj I disagree with you and Cotd from the hindsight is 20/20 aspect. All well and good now from armchairs to criticize what Honda woulda, coulda, shoulda done sooner, but I trust that these professionals did indeed seek out help as soon as they knew where they needed it or that they themselves weren’t solving it. I think there’s a good chance that during the initial years with Mac there were many problems going on at once, which may have masked this specific issue of the turbo shaft. Example, and I’m speculating too of course, they may have initially not been able to crank their Pu up high enough for the turbo shaft to have been revealed as a weak link.

      This just to say, it belittles Honda unfairly so imho, to make such armchair claims as cotd does, with no information whatsoever on the fine details of what went on chronologically throughout the development of their hybrid Pu.

      1. @robbie Fair and valid points.

      2. Agreed, cotd is a massive, MASSIVE over simplification…

        What happened to this site? SIlly comments are one thing, but to make it the comment of the day? I come here for insightful comments. You could’ve found any one single comment made by anon or gt racer, and it would’ve been 100% more insightful and 0% as cringe as what got chosen.

        Later peeps.

        1. @Xcm I don’t think cotd is necessarily selected because it is insightful, as in, profound, but rather if it insights debate because it is a bit controversial, or, debatable, then it may get cotd in order to further conversation. Similarly, I assume that not nearly every comment that is designated as cotd is one that Keith or Dieter would agree on, as in, I don’t believe they’re cheering for and handing a trophy to the cotd author for their stance because it falls in line with their opinions. It may well not, but if it makes for some conversation then they have done their job.

    3. @jerejj The article is really old news though. It makes it look like Honda F1 just this season asked for help from their Jet neighbours. While in fact this has been going on since at least for the 2018 season already. Perhaps even further back.

      So yeah after the McLaren drama ended, but als not like it was just last week.

  9. helmet teying to ruffle mercedese feathers with nonsense rumours. why would lewis leave mercs for a less competative team like ferrari?

    1. sorry for typo errors

      I thought you did it on purpose wayne, but not sure whose/which accent you were mimicking ;)

    2. The suggestion was that Mercedes is perhaps going to put less effort into the F1 team (ie pull out althogether or Wolff might be leaving)

  10. sorry for typo errors

  11. Mercedes moved for Verstappen?

    Why would they?
    There are lots of similar or better options.
    Definitely better – Charles (ok, already signed with Ferrari) and Carlos. Potentially better – Lando and George and Esteban.
    Similar – Valtteri and Sergio.

    No reason to chase some unstable driver.

    1. You are already in trollmodus in 2020..
      Nice. Warming up for the next season probably.

      1. No, nothing to do with trolling.
        I honestly think that Verstappen is not the “star” many believe he is.

        He is kind of “ok”, but that’s it.

        1. I honestly think that Verstappen is not the “star” many believe he is.

          Your prerogative, @dallein, but you’re pretty ‘allein’ in that belief.

          Notwithstanding your belief, any level of common sense should be able to answer your own question “Why would they?”.
          Therefore (and based on your earlier posts), I understand the reaction by #erikje.

          1. @dallein Strange viewpoint given that last year in their most heated duels Max prevailed both times. Not to mention in the WDC he beat CL (and SV) they in what many have decided was the ‘fastest’ car (mind you that is mostly LH fans who like to make it sound like he won the WDC in a dog of a car). That said, thank goodness we all have our own fingerprints, or wouldn’t life be boring.

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