With Max Verstappen sticking around at Red Bull for a few more years, it is clear that he will be flying the flag for the Austrian team. 2019 was an acid test for the 22-year-old as he had to step up into the lead role after the departure of Daniel Ricciardo.
However, Verstappen insisted that being thrust into the leadership role makes no difference for him and would not change his approach. When Ricciardo jumped ship to Renault, his successors Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon didn’t pose Max Verstappen much threat.
He admitted, “Of course it is kind of nice if everyone listens to you from the beginning and if everything focuses more on one car. I was really able to contribute my ideas, there were always two pages before. That was very positive, but I didn’t change anything because of that.”
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko was confident that Verstappen would fit into his new role well and is an exceptional talent.
Speaking to Motorsport-Total, he said that the Dutch driver was forced into the role after Ricciardo’s unexpected departure. However, he was able to take the role in his stride and became a true leader at Red Bull. However, he did confess that Verstappen’s entire season was not perfect, citing the Belgian and Italian GPs as examples.
This year Verstappen wants to take a further step with Red Bull and intervene in the fight for the World Cup crown. He has already finished with 2019 and has drawn a positive balance: “For me it just had to be the best year, that comes naturally. You gain more and more experience over the years, which then helps you.”
At the beginning of the season, however, he could not get involved with the package at the top. Only after the triumph in Austria did he have a victorious vehicle available thanks to an update. “So the main thing was to be as constant as possible. We hope to be more competitive in the coming season.”
Verstappen knows that if he wants to become world champion in 2020 – the youngest in history – he has to be involved right from the start. “We put all our efforts into it. It won’t be easy, but we will try everything.”