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Max Verstappen

Why Verstappen looks set for Red Bull stay

Max Verstappen has been linked with a move elsewhere but now looks set to stay at Red Bull.

Verstappen race Canada
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen's future has been a hot topic recently, despite the fact the reigning world champion has a Red Bull contract until the end of 2028.

Speculation regarding his future has been caused by unrest amongst the Milton Keynes-based team, which started at the beginning of the season.

Team principal Christian Horner was accused of alleged inappropriate behaviour, which caused a lot of looks to be directed at him and the team, but after the necessary investigation the Briton was eventually acquitted. 

At the same time, Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko reported that he might be suspended, but that soon turned out not to be the case. 

It did, however, cause a lot of turmoil at the team. It was not about the one-two finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but about everything that happened off track. 

Meanwhile, top designer Adrian Newey also announced that he will leave in early 2025, but the rest of Red Bull's technical team appears to be staying with the Austrians for now.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, has hinted several times that he would love to sign Verstappen, hoping that the Dutchman will want to switch to the Silver Arrows. "I am optimistic that one day our paths will cross and that we will be successful," Wolff previously said.

The turmoil within the team and Wolff's words caused much speculation about Verstappen's future. The Dutchman has always indicated he wants to work in a peaceful and tranquil environment, and Red Bull could not offer him that at the time. 

One thing his team could offer him, however, was a lightning-fast car. Especially at the beginning of the year, the radically changed RB20 was too strong for the competition. Already, Verstappen has six wins from the first nine races. 

Not surprisingly, despite the rumours, Verstappen looks set to stay with Red Bull next season.

Dominant car

Why would you just leave the team, where you have been driving since 2016 and which has previously shown it can build a championship-winning car? Verstappen joined Red Bull's main team after just 23 races for Toro Rosso (known now as RB).

Historically, on his debut for the main team, Verstappen secured victory at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. 

In the years that followed, he took just nine victories and had to deal with Mercedes' dominance, but from 2021 onwards, the tally began to climb. He has since rounded the 60-victory mark and appears to be the best driver in the current F1 field.

Red Bull knew the ground effect regulations best in 2022 and has been ahead of the competition ever since. In 2022 and 2023, Verstappen and Red Bull grabbed two titles relatively easily, and now that we are over a third of the way into the 2024 season, the two sides are once again in good shape. 

However, the competition has made great strides, especially on the less traditional tracks. In Australia, Carlos Sainz took victory, in Miami, Lando Norris was too strong for Verstappen and in Monaco, Charles Leclerc was the winner.

So why throw away a very good and realistic chance at a possible fifth world title in 2025? After all, that is what Verstappen seems to be doing if he did leave Red Bull. So that would be highly illogical and certainly a reason for Verstappen to extend his time with the successful team yet again. 

Red Bull, instead of building on the highly successful RB19, decided to take a big risk in the winter with the rather radical modifications to the car. Even if there are some problems driving over kerbs and bumps, on the classic circuits Red Bull still seems to have the best car. 

After all, after the first nine races, Verstappen is already 56 points ahead of Leclerc, the number two in the drivers' championship.

What options remain?

And that still leaves the question of where he should go next. The only option at a top team is Mercedes, as Ferrari and McLaren have already announced its driver duo for 2025. Norris and Oscar Piastri will remain with McLaren next year as well, whilst Lewis Hamilton will leave for Ferrari to become Leclerc's team-mate. 

There is no place at Aston Martin either, as Fernando Alonso has extended his contract and Lance Stroll, the son of owner Lawrence Stroll, does not seem to be going anywhere either. 

And so Mercedes remains as the only top team option. However, Wolff has repeatedly stated that Mercedes should be able to offer Verstappen a winning car, but they currently cannot. Mercedes was right there in Canada with pole position and a third-place finish for George Russell, but it remains to be seen how well the Brackley-based team performs in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen at least knows what he has at Red Bull. The whole project there revolves around him, while at Mercedes he will have to form a new team around him. All in all, then, few reasons remain for Verstappen to switch to a new team in 2025. So it seems he will drive for Red Bull in 2025, although you never know in the world of Formula 1...

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