Max Verstappen is one of Formula 1’s brightest prospects and he made a huge step last season with a move to Red Bull. However, it seems he may not be there as long as some would expect.
Now in his second season with Red Bull, Verstappen has been forced to retire from five of eleven races so far this season due to reasons out of his control; a mix of reliability issues and collisions that were not his fault.
Understandably this has led to a frustrating campaign for the young Dutchman, with Red Bull well behind Mercedes and Ferrari in the standings, and Verstappen has suggested that his long-term future could lie away from the Austrian side when his contract expires in 2019.
The comments came after Red Bull chief Christian Horner claimed speculation of Verstappen moving to Ferrari was mere ‘propaganda’ but the 19-year-old driver has made it clear improvements need to be shown if he is committed to a longer deal.
“I’ve always said that there’s no reason to leave when I have a competitive car. At the moment we are not there where I want to be, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up straight away. You have to work hard. But after two, three years without improving, that would be a different story. We are working hard to improve but after next year we will see what happens in the future.”
-Verstappen speaking to ESPN
— Oliva Cars (@Oliva_Salgado) August 22, 2017
Horner has been optimistic ahead of the second-half of the season but Verstappen has his doubts, suggesting they’re still a long way behind Ferrari.
“Every race weekend is a bit different and that surprises me to be honest. On tracks with not too many straights, we are reasonably close, around three tenths more or less. When there’s a few straights then we are a bit further away, so I don’t know what to expect for the upcoming races. It will be quite tough to compete against them.”
“Between Ferrari and Mercedes: it changes every weekend. I expect Mercedes to be very strong at Spa, because in general their power unit is still the best in the field. But it’s very close.”
Red Bull certainly need to improve their straight line speed if they’re to be competitive but the second-half of the campaign must focus on minor improvements rather than going straight for glory, as it’s clear the team are far below their best.