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Monday, July 15, 2024

Verstappen stays with Red Bull, crushing Mercedes’ hopes

In a press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen emphasized his focus on developing next year’s car.

Max Verstappen, the three-time world champion, has confirmed that he will remain with Red Bull next year, ending speculation about a potential move to Mercedes. In a press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen emphasized his focus on developing next year’s car and his commitment to the team. When directly asked if he was staying, he replied, “OK, yes. And that’s what I have already said. We are working on next year’s car and when you are focused on that, it means that you’re also driving for the team.”

Blow to Mercedes’ Plans

This confirmation deals a significant blow to Mercedes’ plans, as team principal Toto Wolff had identified Verstappen as the primary target to replace Lewis Hamilton, who is set to join Ferrari. Wolff had hoped to bring Verstappen onboard to lead the team’s efforts in the coming years. Verstappen’s decision to stay with Red Bull highlights his satisfaction with the team and his belief in their future competitiveness. “I have a long contract with the team,” Verstappen added. “I’m very happy where I’m at and we’re already focusing on next year with things we can implement on the car. So, I guess that should say enough of where I’m driving next year.”

Read More: Verstappen’s fifth consecutive victory at the Austrian Grand Prix

Stormy Season

Verstappen’s decision to stay comes after a tumultuous period earlier this year, during which Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner faced accusations of controlling behavior by a female colleague. Despite this, Verstappen has remained focused on his performance and has secured seven wins from ten races this season. His father, Jos Verstappen, who had previously warned that Red Bull would “explode” if Horner was retained, appeared to support Max’s decision to continue fighting for more glory with the team. This stability within the team is crucial as they aim to maintain their competitive edge in the upcoming seasons.

Competitive Landscape and Future Prospects

Verstappen currently leads the title race with a 69-point advantage over his closest rival, McLaren’s Lando Norris. The season has seen increased competition, with Mercedes and Ferrari showing potential to win. George Russell took pole position in Canada, and Hamilton secured his first podium of the season in Spain. “It’s great that there isn’t just one dominant force out there now because people want to see fights on track and the drivers going for it,” said Russell. “There should be more than one car in a position to win. It’s really exciting now to see how this season pans out and into next year — there could be four or five teams fighting to win.”

Read More: Unstoppable Verstappen: Canadian Grand Prix win and the Senna connection

With Verstappen committed to Red Bull, Mercedes is expected to shift their focus to signing Italian teenager Kimi Antonelli, who turns 18 in August. Antonelli is seen as a rising star in motorsport and could be a strategic long-term investment for the team. As the driver market continues to evolve, Mercedes will be keen to secure a strong lineup to compete at the highest level.