[F1 2017 NEWS] MAX VERSTAPPEN: BIDING HIS TIME

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is putting on a brave face. 

The 19-year-old was meant to be in the thick of a title battle this year, his Red Bull RB13 expected to be a challenger to Mercedes. The new technical regulations set to suit the squad’s strength in aerodynamics.

Despite all the ingredients in place, the Dutchman refused to get carried away – keeping his powder dry from the outset.

SOUNDBITE: (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
"I first want to see how competitive the car is and then I can be more precise in my goals. I mean, of course, I always want to win races, but you need to have the right equipment for that as well."

And the equipment has let him down with the car affecting four of his six retirements from the first 13 races, including brake issues in Bahrain, the battery in Canada, and engine gremlins in Azerbaijan and Belgium.

With three of the four reliability issues related to the power unit - Renault Sport Racing’s managing director, Cyril Abiteboul – has been on the front foot apologising for the disappointment - following Verstappen’s retirement on lap eight in Belgium in front of 80 thousand Dutch fans.

… while the squad puts more pressure on Renault – to deliver more peak horsepower and engine maps for qualifying.

Through it all, Verstappen has kept a level head, staying positive in public to back the team’s efforts to recover from its windtunnel calibration issues.

SOUNDBITE: (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“It has been quite a challenging one, I think. But, yeah, we are constantly improving so I think that’s very positive and we just have to keep going like this to catch up.”

But after Belgium, when asked how long his faith in Red Bull Racing could go on for – Verstappen’s answer was ominous.

“I don’t know. If it continues like this, not very long,” he said.

Verstappen’s father Jos is a shrewd operator behind the scenes and won’t stand to see his son not a frontrunner.

With Ferrari rumoured to have signed an option on Verstappen’s services from 2019, Red Bull has to lift its game – and fast – to keep the Dutchman.

A competitive car is all he needs.