The Formula 1 silly season is upon us and this week’s hot topic in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix paddock is talk of Max Verstappen potentially leaving Red Bull Racing for Ferrari.
Sky F1 pundit Ted Kravitz thinks the Dutch prodigy is unhappy and impatient enough to consider breaking his contract for 2018.
“What is going to happen to Verstappen? We hear that not only is he not happy but by extension (his father, former F1 driver) Jos is not happy,” Kravitz said in a Sky Sports F1 Facebook Live video.
The 19-year-old is becoming increasingly frustrated with the Renault-powered car’s struggles this year, after only one podium and three retirements.
After the last race in Canada, when engine problems abruptly ended his campaign whilst running in second place, the teenager spoke candidly of both his disappointment and desire to win.
“The car is a little better but there’s no new (engine) model this year as you’d have read. They promised this, but in the end little has arrived in terms of updates (in 2017),” he said.
“That’s very disappointing. I’m concerned about next year. This year we wanted to go for the title but we’re far away from that.”
The Milton Keynes outfit has so far been unable to beat frontrunners Ferrari and Mercedes this season and hopes of a major engine update have been dashed, with the French manufacturer confirming the next big upgrade won’t be until next year.
“Then we will have a completely new concept,” Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul told F1’s official website. “That will make a difference — but as I said 2018.”
Verstappen has been touted by many as a future world champion and Kravtiz believes if Maranello come knocking on the young Dutchman’s door he won’t let a Red Bull contract get in the way of the opportunity.
“They are having heated discussions with (Red Bull adviser) Helmut Marko about what on earth is going on. Where’s this championship you promised us? And they’re looking around as well. I think we have to throw Verstappen into the mix of where he will be driving next year.
“Red Bull say they hold all the cards, ‘Drivers don’t leave us, we dump drivers.’ But try saying that to Sebastian Vettel who had a valid Red Bull contract (but left to join Ferrari). If Verstappen has Ferrari coming in saying, ‘We want you Max to partner Sebastian next year, take Kimi (Räikkönen’s) seat, we’ll sort out the contract’ I think he would go.
“He’s that impatient for championship success that I think he would go at the moment because he doesn’t see, like many of us, Red Bull getting a championship before the rules change after 2020.
“Verstappen may have a contract but, as (Red Bull boss) Christian Horner says, you can’t force a driver to drive for you if he doesn’t want to drive for you.”
Ferrari will no doubt be looking at all available and possible options before making a decision on out-of-contract driver Kimi Räikkönen. But keep in mind only 10 days ago there were stories about the (albeit unlikely) prospect of reigning world champion Nico Rosberg coming out of retirement to join the Scuderia. So only time will tell how many more names will be linked to the Iceman’s seat before the 2018 contracts are locked in.
Image via Red Bull Racing