However, none of these drivers entered Formula 1 like the Dutchman at the age of 17. And Verstappen had one big disadvantage so far: the world title was never within reach because it wasn’t in the right car. In the shadow of Mercedes’ superiority and in view of the strong Ferrari competition over many years, ten Grand Prix victories and three pole positions are already a strong performance.
Contract extension depends on the potential of the car
In addition to record world champion Hamilton, Verstappen is considered to be the greatest driving talent in the field. He and his family, especially his father Jos Verstappen, who drove in Formula 1 himself, would no longer like to tie his opportunities to Red Bull if the world championship chances are still missing. Therefore, when signing the new contract, which will run until the end of 2023, the Verstappen camp last year pushed for a clause that is not explicitly aimed at a World Championship placement or a number of race wins at a certain point in the season, but more generally at the potential of the car.
“I don’t want to go into details, but it says more or less that Max can compete for race wins and the World Championship on his own. If he can, his contract will be extended. If not, he would be free, ”said Marko, who holds a doctorate in law, on F1-Insider.com. As the online network claims to have found out, this involves an average of three tenths of a second per lap, which Verstappen’s Red Bull must not lose on the fastest car.
“Now I and the team have to deliver”
In the previous season, Verstappen won at Silverstone and Abu Dhabi and was again third in the drivers’ standings behind the Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull would not have made the rumored contractual conditions, however, as his deficit to Mercedes averaged about half a second on a fast lap.
“I just have to focus on my personal performance and I think they were an improvement on the years before,” said Verstappen. But he also knows that an increase will be necessary. “Now I and the team have to deliver, then we can try to seriously fight for the title.”
The good test drives in Bahrain almost two weeks ago give hope, even if Verstappen was cautious afterwards, as usual. “We only drove in hot conditions and each track brings different challenges. But I have a good feeling for the car, ”he said. Mercedes is still to be favored, but he added. “I’m sure Mercedes wants people to believe we are the favorites to put pressure on us, but we are only focused on ourselves.”