Max Verstappen has refused to rule out leaving Red Bull when his current deal comes to an end. And the Dutchman admits his title battle with Charles Leclerc is different to the one he had with Lewis Hamilton last year because the drivers attack and defend differently.
“At the end of the contract I’m only 31 years old,” Verstappen said to the latest edition of motorsport-magazin. “Then I still have the option to continue or not. I still won’t be old at the end of the contract period.”
Earlier this year, Verstappen signed a new deal with Red Bull worth a staggering £40million-a-year as he committed his future to the Austrian team until 2028. But his comments show that he could be open to moving to Red Bull rivals Ferrari and Mercedes further down the line.
Verstappen landed his maiden F1 title last season after winning a final-lap shootout with Hamilton at the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But this time around, Verstappen has a new adversary in the shape of Ferrari ace Leclerc. And the 24-year-old admits his battle for success this season isn’t playing out the same way as it did last year.
“Of course every driver is a bit different,” Verstappen continued. “Different in how he defends and how he attacks. That’s why you approach every driver a little bit differently.”
Verstappen endured a slow start to the current F1 season as he was forced out of the opening race in Bahrain with just a few laps remaining due to power issues with his Red Bull car. He also failed to finish at the Australian Grand Prix. But the superstar has won the other three Grands Prix as he tasted glory in Saudi Arabia in March, before winning back-to-back races in Italy and Miami.
And Verstappen previously hinted he’s confident of enjoying a successful season if Red Bull can resolve their car issues for good. “It was an incredible Grand Prix,” the ace said after winning in Miami. “Very physical as well, but I think we kept it exciting until the end. Incredibly happy the winning here in Miami. It was an incredible Sunday for us.
“We’re still having a few issues we have to solve. I mean we are quick, but as you can see, my Friday was terrible, you know, which is not great if you want to have a good weekend. And also Checo [Sergio Perez] had a few issues in the race, so we have to be on top of that. But clearly there is a lot of potential – we just need to make sure it’s reliable.”