Verstappen’s words analyzed: ‘Red Bull might prefer not to have a driver who says this’

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Verstappen's words analyzed: 'Red Bull might prefer not to have a driver who says this'

Joe Saward is one of the most experienced journalists in the Formula 1 paddock, and the 61-year-old Brit has been sharing what comes to his attention on and around the circuits for years. In the latest version of his Green Notebook, he mainly discussed the unrest at Red Bull Racing in detail, although there was also attention for a striking transfer from Mercedes to Ferrari, other than Lewis Hamilton himself.

Saward sees how Saudi Arabia is playing an increasingly important role in Formula 1, with its own event and Saudi Aramco as a sponsor, but it would not stop there. “Those who have been paying close attention in Jeddah may have noticed that a lot of work has been done on the pit buildings, even though they still look the same as before,” the 62-year-old noted.

Saudi Arabia has organized four Grands Prix so far. ‘A temporary pit complex was built in 2021, so it had to be recreated. Saudi Arabia has a contract that runs through 2030, and while the race could move to the unbuilt Qiddiya circuit in 2028 or 2029, it is more likely that Saudi Arabia will attempt to host two Grands before the end of the decade To get a prize.

Leaders around Wolff fall away

Saward also paid attention to the transfer of former Formula 1 driver Jérôme d’Ambrosio. ‘Mercedes has lost its director of Driver Development. His role was much bigger than the title suggests, as it seemed he was being groomed as a possible replacement for Toto Wolff. I understand that he left because his family found it difficult to settle in England, and now he is going to Ferrari. Since Toto (Wolff, ed.) and Fred (Frédéric Vasseur, ed.) are best friends, albeit with a knife behind their backs when it comes to business, I wouldn’t be surprised if Toto asked Fred to find a job .’

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wolff vowles
Wolff and Vowles during the 2019 German Grand Prix.

This means that the next leader is leaving Mercedes. Since the death of Niki Lauda, ​​engine chief Andy Cowell, Mike Elliott, and James Vowles have already left. Vowles was one of the most logical successors to Wolff, but Vowles went to Williams. Now that Hamilton is going to Ferrari, D’Ambrosio is also leaving, leaving the old guard with only James Allison and Andy Shovlin.

Verstappen creates uncertainty

However, Red Bull has been the topic of conversation in the paddock for weeks, and Saward also paid extensive attention to the Austrian team. “The big question after Saudi Arabia is what will happen to Max Verstappen, as certain statements in Jeddah made it clear that change is possible,” Saward writes. “It would of course be very strange for Verstappen if he leaves Red Bull, because he can probably win the title relatively easily this year, and also in 2025. However, we do not yet know what the pecking order will be in 2026,” said the journalist. .

“It is clear that Verstappen is not impressed with how Red Bull has handled Helmut Marko, and in Jeddah he made it very clear that he may follow if Marko leaves,” Saward continued. ‘Loyalty is always good, but Max’s comments raise certain questions. He sent a very clear message. Red Bull might prefer not to have a driver who says these things publicly, no matter how good he is.’ Saward seems to agree with the words of team boss Christian Horner, who indicated that no individual is bigger than the team.

‘I tried to explain the chaos at Red Bull last time. It’s not easy to explain, but it’s clear that the Horner story isn’t the main point. That is a weapon used against Horner by people who should be on the same side,” says Saward, who therefore points to a power struggle. ‘It can no longer be said that Red Bull is a unit, and therefore the reporting on this story has also been confusing, because it is not clear who is on which side in this civil war. It has become a very ugly and hard fight.’

Consequences for silly season

Saward is also trying to figure out what is going on. “I don’t care who takes control of the team, but I will do my best to find out how and why they did it. At the right time I will share that story, if possible. Until then, I will focus on the sporting consequences. Do I think peace can still be made between the different parties? No, I don’t believe that,” says Saward.

‘So much has happened in recent weeks that confidence will never return. And that applies to both sides,” said the journalist. “Ultimately, power will determine the outcome of this story, or the legal system, if necessary. I’m sure heads will roll, but I don’t know yet which heads they will be. If Max doesn’t want to race for Red Bull next year, that’s his choice. Red Bull cannot force him to do that, whatever his contract says.’

If Verstappen does indeed leave, it will turn the driver market upside down, after Hamilton previously surprised with a transfer. ‘Red Bull has the dominant car, and that will probably be the case again in 2025, so Verstappen will then give up the best spot. That probably won’t be possible during the season, but it could happen in 2025. Drivers may be able to bet on which power units will be good in 2026, and that may also play a role.’

This means Saward ends up at Mercedes. Six months ago, Marko noted that Red Bull Powertrains was in second place, and the Austrian then hinted that Mercedes has done the best for the time being. “Mercedes has a seat available for 2025, and although the car is currently not close to the Red Bull, Wolff has made it clear that he wants Verstappen in that car,” says Saward. ‘If that Red Bull seat becomes available, every Formula 1 driver will go for it. The contracts do not stop the drivers. The rest of this year will be a roller coaster,” is the journalist’s closing prediction.

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