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Verstappen Commits to Red Bull, Shuns Mercedes Move

Horner Firm: Verstappen Stays with Red Bull, Rejects Mercedes

29/06/2024

Horner confirms Verstappen’s loyalty to Red Bull, dismissing any speculation of a switch to Mercedes F1.

All is well for Max Verstappen in Austria so far, as the three-time reigning world champion clinched the pole position for the Sprint. However, this achievement followed a considerable scare during the free practice when the Red Bull driver had to halt on the track due to an engine issue. This problem was understood and resolved, as explained by Christian Horner in a press conference.

“It was a sensor issue. Fortunately, the car stopped on the straight of the pit lane, near a junction in the pit wall, which allowed us to retrieve the car. We then had to reset the sensor and restart. So yes, we were lucky because it would have been disastrous to lose this track time, especially during a Sprint weekend.”

On the margins of the weekend, Max Verstappen indicated that he would remain with the Austrian team next year, but his father Jos, openly in conflict with Horner, suggested after the Sprint qualifying session that a move to Mercedes F1 might indeed be possible.

For the British leader, the statements from his driver confirm that no surprise departure should be expected even though Jos threatens…

“This only reaffirms everything we already know. Max is a vital part of our team. He has secured all his victories and podiums in Red Bull Racing cars, his three world championships to date, and he is a crucial team member. He enjoys being part of the team. He is surrounded by a fantastic group. And we know what the future holds. The driver who created all the movement in the market (Hamilton) had all the information about the engines and the 2026 regulations, etc., and chose to leave, creating a vacancy at Mercedes. That’s why there is now some speculation about who will fill that spot, but it will not be Max Verstappen.”

As we await further confirmations and as the war of words intensifies, the Dutch driver continues to prove weekend after weekend that he remains the top driver in the discipline, even if his F1 is no longer the best on all circuits. Horner is almost running out of superlatives concerning him.

“He has been absolutely remarkable. I believe what you’re seeing is a driver who continues to evolve and develop. And I think you’re seeing races of the same calibre as those that the greats of this sport were capable of achieving, the Ayrton Sennas, the Jim Clarks. Just look at the current generation, and I think that’s what we’re seeing with Max. These key moments, the big moments, are what define any exceptional sportsman. And that’s what he’s doing. And we’ve seen him under pressure in recent races. And it’s also in conjunction with the team, because it’s clear that the team is also under pressure. We have managed to win three of the last four races, and these are all hard-earned victories. And Max continues to surprise us with the level he is capable of reaching.”

Red Bull remains “the best team” even without the fastest F1 car

While Red Bull might no longer have the fastest car, Horner is pleased that the team can still rely on an exceptional Verstappen and a flawlessly operational team.

“I believe we are still the best Formula 1 team. And the car has to be a part of that. The drivers have to be a part of that. The engineers, the strategists, everyone behind the scenes. And it’s very close. I mean, it shifts from one race to the next. In the last two races, we matched the pole time and we were just two hundredths of a second off in Barcelona. And we still managed to convert that into victories. So, it’s very, very tight. And, you know, McLaren has probably looked the strongest over the last three or four races in terms of competitiveness. Ferrari has made a slight step forward. Mercedes, since the last few races or certainly since Montreal.”

“It’s healthy competition and what you get with the regulations is a normal convergence. I mean, I think when you look back, we got used to winning and what we achieved last year is not natural. If you look back at 2012, I think we won seven races in total, Sebastian (Vettel) winning five to clinch the world championship. That’s Formula 1 and I think we expect it to be very, very close by the end of the year.”

McLaren F1 is currently Red Bull’s strongest rival, but Mercedes and Ferrari are not far behind. Indeed, Horner was asked about his thoughts on the work of Frédéric Vasseur, who has evidently brought a lot to the Scuderia since he took over as team director last year.

“I’ve known Fred for many years, he’s a racer, a good competitor, and Ferrari seems to be doing well with him. And I think the pressure with Ferrari is always different from any other team. Every team faces different pressures, but with Ferrari, you essentially have a national team and the pressure that comes with it and the expectations that come with it. You know, Fred is an easy man to deal with. He’s a racer. And he seems to have galvanized the team quite well. So, yes, I think he’s doing a good job.”

Verstappen Commits to Red Bull, Shuns Mercedes Move. Verstappen Commits to Red Bull, Shuns Mercedes Move. f1 Verstappen Commits to Red Bull, Shuns Mercedes Move

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