Verstappen prefers to focus on the car


As the Horner saga rumbles on, Max Verstappen admits that he would rather that the focus was on his car.

Easier said than done, what with his father a key player in a sorry tale that began with allegations of inappropriate behaviour on the part of the team boss and has now become a cause celebre, seemingly for the entire sporting world and far beyond.

However, as he prepares for the third round of the championship, the world champion insists that he has no time for distractions and that he hopes that attention can now focus on the car and the title fight.

"From what I know everything is handled in the right way," he told reporters in Melbourne. "I'm not going into any further details from that side because I don't know more than that. Also don't want to know because that's not my job or my task within the team," he added.

"For me, all the things that have been going on, it's very easy to jump back in the car and perform," he continued. "There are so many great people also in the garage, for example. That has never changed, as you can see from results that we've had as a team.

"Would we have liked to have more talk about our car? Probably, yes," he admitted. "But we just try to keep on working on the performance and to keep winning."

Asked about the ongoing speculation linking him with Mercedes, he insisted that he is happy where he is, with his "second family".

"In a family there might sometimes be, I would just say, not disagreements, but... you can't choose family," he laughed. "You can choose your friends.

"It's good, it's good. I mean, honestly for me, it's been the same and we just focus on the performance."

Meanwhile, when asked about the alleged clause in the Dutchman's contract that would allow him to leave should Horner or Helmut Marko leave Red Bull, teammate Sergio Perez said: "I don't know what clause Max has in his contract. I think it's best you ask him.

"I think Max, as far as I know, has a contract with the team and is fully committed with the team," he added. "The rest, I think it's not for me to comment. It's nothing to do with me. I'm focusing on my decisions, on what I have to do. And I think for us to be talking about other drivers when we don't know any facts, I don't see any point to do so."

Asked if Verstappen leaving would affect the dynamic of the team, the Mexican said: "I think the team is in a very strong position because, I mean, with the results we're currently having, the harmony that there is in the team, I think to achieve that it just takes a lot of years probably. And right now the dynamics, everyone in the team is working really well together. The whole engineering group is really united. And you can see that on track and how efficient we've been in the last year. So I think I don't see any reason to change it. And it will obviously be a blow for the team if Max were to leave."

At the time of speaking it was unclear if Perez had his fingers crossed behind his back.

Of course, another issue for Verstappen to consider is that from 2026 Red Bull will be fully responsible for its own power units, and fears over performance and reliability are another reason the Dutchman could look elsewhere.

"If I have to, of course, I could speculate about everything," he laughed. "I mean, I might be worried if I'm still alive tomorrow, right?

"So, I don't really worry about that too much. Of course, I'm in close contact also with Christian about that. And the people working there, everyone's working flat out. So, there's no need to panic about that as well. And also, it's still not 2026. And we know that it is a very big task. We don't take that lightly.

"And, of course, with so many well-established engine manufacturers, we also don't think it's going to be easy to beat them. But we have a lot of good people working on it, on the project. And we're very excited about it. So, time will tell, of course, where it's going to be."

Nonetheless, pushed on a potential timeline, especially in terms of a switch to Mercedes, he said: "I don't know. I don't know what after '28 happens. I don't know if I'm going to stay in F1 or if I'm going to continue, maybe sign a new deal. I don't know that yet."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Melbourne here.

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Published: 21/03/2024
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