Verstappen’s most embarrassing moment in F1

Max Verstappen has billed his 2016 United States GP pit stop blunder as his most embarrassing moment as a Formula 1 driver.

The Dutchman, promoted to Red Bull’s senior team earlier in the year, was running a strong fourth at the Circuit of the Americas having passed Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen suddenly pulled into the pits but his mechanics weren’t ready for the driver.

They quickly jumped into action but the slow stop meant Verstappen lost positions.

Turns out he had no one but himself to blame as he made an assumption that, as they often do, proved to be wrong.

“In 2016, in Austin,” he told GPToday.net when asked what was his most embarrassing F1 moment. “I was driving, I was like P5 maybe. It was going quite well, I was closing on the guys in third and fourth.

“My engineer, he would say ‘push now, push now’. Back then, that normally meant that lap you were pitting, but I knew that I had to speed up.

“So he said that, I was doing my lap in Austin and [at] the second to last corner, I went in all good and then I drove to the pit entry and into the corner – and I realised he never called me in.

“He didn’t tell me to pit, he never said it.

“I was like ‘Oh my god, what did I just do?’. I’m in the pit lane I’m like ‘Guys, I’m pitting, I’m pitting, I’m in the pits!’.

“Suddenly you see all the guys running out, they were taking random tyres.

“The pit stop was like eight or nine seconds, but still considering what I did, it was a very fast pit stop.

“After the pit stop I didn’t say anything because it doesn’t make sense to argue.”

The Dutchman retired a few laps later when gearbox gremlins forced him out of the grand prix.

Out of the car he had to face the wrath of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.

Ironically, though, fans still voted Verstappen their ‘Driver of the Day’ for his efforts that Sunday.

“So I continued,” he added, “but within three laps something died and my car retired.

“After the race, having the discussion, Helmut was pretty angry at me.

“But I was like ‘yeah, I f*cked up. I thought he called me in’.”

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Horner excited to see how Hamilton handles ‘young wave’

Red Bull principal Christian Horner looks forward to seeing Lewis Hamilton go head-to-head with the “young wave” of F1 talent in the coming years.

The Mercedes man stormed his way to a sixth World Championship in 2019, putting him just one shy of Michael Schumacher’s record seven.

But in 2019 we also saw the emergence of Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, while for the first time Red Bull’s Max Verstappen showed the kind of mentality required for him to become a World Champion one day.

And Horner is really looking forward to the battle to come between these two generations.

“Every now and again, you get a wave coming along and I think we’ve got that at the moment,” he is quoted by Motorsport.com.

“So I think especially exciting is the Max/Leclerc dynamic, how that’s going to play out over future years, how Lewis can still go toe to toe with those guys.

“Because there’s life in him yet as well and I think he’s keen to gauge himself against the young wave that’s coming through.

“I think for Formula 1 it’s fantastic to have the dynamics of the young guys, the challengers, coming through and some of the older guys that are the old dogs that know all the tricks.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes deal is up after 2020, but he is expected to sign fresh terms after Leclerc and Verstappen both extended their deals with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

And while Hamilton admits that his ventures outside of F1, such as his fashion brand, are a way of giving himself something to fall back on once he retires from F1, that doesn’t mean he is walking away any time soon.

“The core of what I do is that I love racing, I love the challenge,” he explained.

“I love arriving knowing I have got these incredibly talented youngsters who are trying to beat me and outperform me, outsmart me, and I love that battle that I get into that every single year.

“And I am working with these guys who are so much smarter than me and they make me feel smarter, [and] when I am challenging them and proving them wrong so many times, it is unreal!

“I don’t fear [the day I retire]. It is going to be a sad day, to hang up and stop doing something you’ve loved your whole life and as long as you can remember. But that is why I have all these other things in place that I can fall back on.

“The fashion side, for example, I’ve found another business that I can do for a long time if successful. Currently that is going really, really well but I don’t know how long it will go. But at least I have another interest.

“But there are a lot of different things I can be interested in. I know my life is not going to be over when I retire. And that gives me a lot of comfort but right now I feel physically good enough to continue so I’m going to try to eke that out as long as I can.”

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Max lifts lid on dynamic with his race engineer

Max Verstappen has revealed that he has a “very honest” partnership with his race engineer, who will say to each other if and when they are doing a “bad job”.

Verstappen and Gianpiero Lambiase have worked together ever since the Dutchman’s first year with the Red Bull senior team and are poised to continue the relationship with Verstappen signing a new three-year contract extension in January.

Verstappen values the fact that Lambiase does not talk for the sake of it and that clear communication helps him to stay focused and try to perform to his best ability.

“I think we are both very straightforward. We’re very honest,” Verstappen said via Motorsport.com.

“And we can say to each other when we do a bad job. I like that.

“And he’s also a guy who doesn’t talk too much. I don’t like someone who’s talking just to talk, giving me more messages – because for me, that is just not working. And he’s exactly the same, so he likes that as well.

“So short, quick communication is for me the best and, over the years, you get to know each other as well. You spend a lot of time with each other. Sometimes I think he can just guess already what I was going to say.”

Verstappen also mentioned the whole Red Bull team shares one common bond and that is their determination to win.

“It’s just very nice to be in the team, it is really enjoyable, a lot of fun, which I think is also important in the team,” he added.

“Everybody gets along very well with each other. And we all want to win, we have the winners’ mentality.

“Everybody at the track and back at the factory, they are also motivated to show everyone that we can get back to those winning days of Red Bull dominating. We just want to try and recreate that.”

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Berger: Leclerc ‘more political’ than Verstappen

Ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger believes Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are level when it comes to ability, but Leclerc embraces “politics” more.

Both Verstappen and Leclerc regularly make up the conversation when talking about future stars of Formula 1 and are seen as the pair most likely to end the dominant reign of six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Fans got a taste of the potential future battles to come between Leclerc and Verstappen in 2019, most notably at the Austrian and British GPs, and both are now tied down to long-term deals with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

But while both youngsters possess amazing talent, the way they go about racing is different in Berger’s eyes.

While Verstappen in his opinion is the unpredictable one with no filter, Leclerc he feels conducts himself in a more “political” manner, making the pair “fundamentally different”.

“The two are fundamentally different. Verstappen is more aggressive and unpredictable,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“He is completely apolitical, says what he thinks, and loud enough for everyone to hear. He drives the same way.

“Leclerc gives the impression that he is the calmer and more considerate driver. I see more calculation, more politics.

“As I said, a completely different approach, but on the same level in terms of ability.”

Verstappen has established himself as the clear number one at Red Bull, and in 2020 he will look to keep his advantage over team-mate Alex Albon as the Anglo-Thai driver begins his first full season with the team.

Leclerc meanwhile will look to continue his progress at Ferrari – he joined the team for 2019 to act as Sebastian Vettel’s understudy while he improved his craft, but would go on to score more points, claim more poles and race wins than the four-time World Champion.

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Doornbos surprised by Verstappen’s long-term deal

Ex-Red Bull driver, Robert Doornbos, has said it was “surprising” to see Max Verstappen sign a new, long contract with the team.

Verstappen has agreed a new three-year contract extension with Red Bull which will now expire at the end of the 2023 season.

The Dutchman’s previous contract was due to expire following the conclusion of the 2020 campaign and Doornbos was surprised to see his fellow compatriot commit to them again for so long.

“I raced for Red Bull myself, so I still have sources there,” Doorbos is quoted as having told Dutch broadcaster NPO 1.

“I knew that something was going on, but that he would be extending for such a long term, that is surprising in Formula 1.

“In the sport, they never dare to make a commitment to a driver for so long unless they have already won a number of world titles.

“I think it’s a bit of loyalty and a bit of certainty, as after this year a lot will change in Formula 1. But I think 2020 is his best chance to go for a championship.”

Verstappen’s new contract is said to be worth in the region of £12million a year, which reportedly puts him third on the highest-earning driver list behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen is not the only big name to commit his long-term future to his current employers so early on. Charles Leclerc has signed a new deal with Ferrari that will run until the end of the 2024 season.

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Brundle: Hamilton's 2021 options 'cut down' by Verstappen deal

Former F1 driver and Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle believes that Max Verstappen’s new deal with Red Bull Racing has “cut down” Lewis Hamilton’s options for 2021.

Verstappen extended this week his allegiance to Red Bull – the company that brought the Dutchman into F1 in 2014 – until the end of 2023.

Vesrtappen’s deal with the Milton Keynes-based team has quashed the prospect of a move to Ferrari or Mercedes in the mid-term.

But Brundle says the move, coupled with Charles Leclerc’s locked-in seat at Ferrari, opens up questions about Mercedes’ game plan regarding the future with both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ contracts expiring at the end of this year.

“The Verstappen news does make my mind think ‘what’s going on at Mercedes’ short to medium term?” Brundle told Sky Sports.

“I really would have expected one of Verstappen or Leclerc to rock up at Mercedes.

“You’d have to look at it and think that Mercedes have got to be at least the equal-best car for another two or three years with the momentum they’ve got, so why hasn’t one of them signed up there?”

Hamilton has said that he is in no hurry to decide his post-2020 future, although the six-time world champion has often expressed his desire to remain with the Mercedes family, despite rumors of Ferrari’s courtship of the Briton.

“It leaves Lewis with reduced options, but he’s still holding a lot of aces,” added Brundle. “And it doesn’t prevent Lewis from going to either of those two teams at all, really.

“It possibly would at Red Bull, but it doesn’t stop the idea of a Hamilton-Leclerc line-up at Ferrari. But it has cut Lewis’ options down, if indeed he hasn’t already signed with Mercedes-Benz longer term.

“Maybe the music stopped before Christmas, they all sat down and there is some embedded news we haven’t heard yet.”

Brundle admitted to have been surprised by the recent flurry of contract announcements.

“These post-2020 deals have certainly happened earlier than I expected,” he said.

“I thought Max would see whether Red Bull could give him a championship-challenging car over the first few races of the year and then take a view.

“So something has crystalised that earlier, which again makes my mind wonder about what is going on elsewhere.”

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Salo: Verstappen contract ‘doesn’t change anything’

Former Formula 1 driver, Mika Salo, thinks Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull deal does not change the 2021 driver market very much.

A quarter of the F1 2021 grid is already in place following Verstappen’s new three-year contract extension, suggesting that the traditional ‘silly season’ may not go on to live up to the hype.

Salo feels that there was always a good chance Verstappen would stay with Red Bull and there is still a lot of potential for a grid shake-up with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo all still out of contract at the end of 2020.

“It really doesn’t change anything,” Salo is quoted as having told Finnish outlet C More. “It was quite expected that Max would stay there.

“Everything else is still open. Pretty much everyone else’s contract is ending.

Salo also believes it was crucial that Red Bull were able to tie Verstappen down to a new deal, saying that they “need” him as opposed to just wanting him to stay.

“They need Max,” Salo added. “Red Bull has been able to guarantee Verstappen good money and a good car.

“I think the situation is satisfactory to Max. Now he can concentrate on the season.”

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Brundle expected Leclerc or Verstappen to join Mercedes

Martin Brundle thought that either Charles Leclerc or Max Verstappen would have joined Mercedes rather commit their futures to Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

Two of Formula 1’s premier talents in Leclerc and Verstappen have decided to stay put with their current teams beyond 2020 as the sport heads into a new era with a major regulations overhaul.

Leclerc is signed up to Ferrari until at least the end of the 2024, while Verstappen has signed a three-year contract extension with Red Bull that runs until the end of 2023 season.

These recommitments have left Brundle a little surprised as he was expecting one of them to join the Silver Arrows.

“The Verstappen news does makes my mind think ‘what’s going on at Mercedes’ short to medium term?” Brundle told Sky Sports F1.

“I really would have expected one of Verstappen or Leclerc to rock up at Mercedes.

“You’d have to look at it and think that Mercedes have got to be at least the equal-best car for another two or three years with the momentum they’ve got, so why hasn’t one of them signed up there?”

As for where this leaves Lewis Hamilton – his contract still set to expire after 2020 – Brundle thinks the six-time World Champion’s options have narrowed, but he can still dictate where his future ultimately lies.

“It leaves Lewis with reduced options, but he’s still holding a lot of aces,” he added.

“And it doesn’t prevent Lewis from going to either of those two teams at all, really.

“It possibly would at Red Bull, but it doesn’t stop the idea of a Hamilton-Leclerc line-up at Ferrari.

“But it has cut Lewis’ options down, if indeed he hasn’t already signed with Mercedes-Benz longer term. Maybe the music stopped before Christmas, they all sat down and there is some embedded news we haven’t heard yet.

“But these post-2020 deals have certainly happened earlier than I expected. I thought Max would see whether Red Bull could give him a championship-challenging car over the first few races of the year and then take a view.

“So something has crystalised that earlier, which again makes my mind wonder about what is going on elsewhere.”

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Leclerc and Verstappen signed, over to you Lewis…

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have secured top seats for the foreseeable future, but what do their renewals tell us about Lewis Hamilton’s plans?

Some expect the 35-year-old to retire in the near future, others envision him donning the red of Ferrari and many can’t see him leaving Mercedes.

While it’s still unclear what he’ll do, some conclusions can be drawn from the deals that the contenders to his throne have made.

He doesn’t fancy being team-mates with Max

The prospect of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen being team-mates at Mercedes had many a fan drooling and dreaming.

With the Dutchman now staying at Red Bull until Hamilton is 38, it looks like it’ll never happen, and we can’t help but think it was the Briton’s decision.

With Verstappen originally being a free agent at the end of 2020, Mercedes surely would have snapped him up to replace Valtteri Bottas, and he’d have almost certainly jumped at the chance.

If that was the case, negotiations would have already begun and he wouldn’t have committed to Red Bull. So, if both team and driver would have been up for it, why didn’t it happen?

Hamilton has a considerable influence at Mercedes and was consulted on whether Valtteri Bottas or Esteban Ocon got the 2020 seat, so it’s safe to assume that he can veto such a move. That’s not to say he’s scared of Verstappen, but more that he’d rather remain as the team’s clear-cut number 1 driver and have a rear-gunner like Valtteri Bottas to help him out.

It’s understandable, but disappointing from a narrative perspective nonetheless.

The retirement plans are on the back-burner

Even if Hamilton prevented Verstappen from joining him at Mercedes, many were confident the Dutchman would replace him when he eventually called it a day in F1. If he was likely to do so soon, Mercedes would surely be aware and would ensure Verstappen was free for when it happens, as would Verstappen himself.

The fact that this hasn’t happened suggests that Hamilton plans to stick around for a good while yet. It’s a near certainty that he’ll want to drive in 2021 to see what the new regulations are like and to potentially go ahead of Michael Schumacher in the World Championship count.

Retiring after that seemed the most likely possibility, but with Verstappen and Leclerc opting not to wait for Mercedes and the German team happy to let them be taken off the market, don’t be surprised if he ends up signing a longer-term contract himself.

Age is just a number, right?

Mercedes or bust

Regardless of when Hamilton leaves the grid for good, it’s looking more and more likely that the remainder of his career will be spent at Mercedes and not Ferrari, as many had hoped.

The rumours of such a move began to swirl at the end of the 2019 season when the Italian team admitted they were pleased he was available for 2021 and it emerged that the two had held talks. The idea of Hamilton ending his career with a new challenge at the sport’s most iconic team seemed more and more likely by the day. And then Leclerc signed a new deal.

Ferrari prefer having clear number one and number two drivers, and haven’t enjoyed having two of the former in their ranks since Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel became team-mates.

With the Monegasque driver committed to leading the team for five seasons at the least, they’re not going to want a driver come him and disrupt things when they could just have someone like Antonio Giovinazzi assist their golden boy instead.

Unless Hamilton is tempted by the romantic idea of ending things where they began at McLaren, it’s hard to imagine him leaving Mercedes before he retired.

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Verstappen feels Red Bull are in position for title tilt

Max Verstappen is optimistic that himself and Red Bull can challenge for the World Championship titles in the upcoming 2020 campaign.

Verstappen,who has committed his long-term future to Red Bull, recorded his best-ever finish of his Formula 1 career to date with a P3 finish behind World Champion Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Valtteri Bottas, winning three races in the process.

Red Bull’s partnership with engine supplier Honda delivered some encouraging signs in their first season together and Verstappen feels there is “no question” that the two parties are heading in the right direction.

“I think so,” Verstappen told Motorsport.com when asked if the groundwork had been put in for a potential title challenge.

“I think we are in the right direction. There’s no question about that.

“Now, it’s just about how much development we can push through for next year. I more or less know, I just hope it’s going to be enough.

“Next season, there are no real changes in the regulations anyway, so you can just build on what you have now. And with a second year working with Honda, I think that should help.

“We massively improved the performance of the engine. I think we know where we have to improve on, we’ve already improved on the car.

“We know that we have to be there from the start if you want to fight for the championship.”

Verstappen also feels that his own consistency is there and Red Bull did a good job in maximising results and getting the better of Ferrari on several occasions in 2019.

“[My] consistency overall was good,” Verstappen added. “I think as a team we did a good job as well.

“We most of the time maximised the result. It was the only thing we could do, especially in the beginning, we couldn’t really fight for wins.

“But we’re still overtaking Ferraris, when we’re actually slower, or doing a better strategy, stuff like that.

“So if we can keep that up, then we can have a strong year next year.”

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