July 24, 2024
Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen is facing an uncomfortable summer break (Image: (Image: Getty))

Max Verstappen and Red Bull have endured a difficult few months in F1, and it’s likely to get worse for the Dutchman during the upcoming summer break
Max Verstappen and Red Bull have been reeled in by their F1 rivals, potentially leading to an uncomfortable summer.

After bagging 19 victories out of 22 races last year, it seemed like another monotonous F1 season was on the horizon. However, in a welcome and much-needed twist for the sport, Verstappen and Red Bull have been caught up by their competitors, with Ferrari, McLaren and, most recently, Mercedes all savouring victory this season.

While it would still be a bold move to bet against the Dutchman securing a fourth straight drivers’ title, things are far from perfect in the Red Bull camp at the moment. The ongoing feud between Verstappen’s father, Jos, and team principal Christian Horner, coupled with the lack of support he is getting from his usually reliable team-mate Sergio Perez, adds to the tension.

With the summer break just around the corner, things could potentially worsen for Verstappen. Here’s how…

Lewis Hamilton’s replacement
If Verstappen decides he’s had enough of the internal politics at Red Bull or simply craves a new challenge, there’s a silver-coloured car waiting for him. Mercedes are yet to announce who will be George Russell’s partner for 2025 after Lewis Hamilton’s decision to switch to Ferrari sent shockwaves through the driver market.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has made no secret of his desire to sign Max Verstappen, who has so far refused to rule out a move to the Silver Arrows at some point in his career. A move to Mercedes would have seemed a non-starter at the beginning of the season, with the Brackley squad way off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen after being beaten by Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix ( Image: (Image: Getty))

However, two wins in a row have seen Mercedes emerge as genuine challengers again, making them a much more attractive proposition. Verstappen has always insisted that having a competitive car is paramount to his future, saying last month: “Of course people are talking, but it’s most important that we have a very competitive car for the future. It is very tight on track, but we are working as a team to try and improve.”

With Red Bull no longer the dominant force they once were, Verstappen may be having second thoughts about his future. If that is the case, the Dutchman will need to decide his next move quickly, with Mercedes lining up teenage starlet Kimi Antonelli, 17.

The Italian youngster took his first F2 win at Silverstone and could be promoted to F1 sooner rather than later, shutting the door on a potential move for Verstappen.

Red Bull shake-up
Across the garage from Verstappen, Perez is enduring the worst trot of his Red Bull career, and there have been a few. The Mexican has generally played the role of number two very well during his time at Red Bull, even getting the better of Verstappen on occasions.

But his recent form is woeful, with early qualifying exits, crashes and lacklustre pace. Despite signing a new contract recently, it is believed there are performance-related clauses that could see him replaced mid-season by Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson, who impressed last season for the second team, now RB.

Lawson is due to test a Red Bull soon and while the team insist it is unrelated to Perez’s situation, if he impresses, he could be in the car sooner rather than later. However, expecting Lawson to immediately compete at the front would be a tall order, leaving Verstappen to continue battling McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari alone.

Another potential replacement is Daniel Ricciardo, although his form this season has been underwhelming, leading to speculation about his future. Yuki Tsunoda does not appear to be in consideration for the first team. Regardless, a mid-season change of team-mate is something Verstappen would prefer to avoid.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez is under immense pressure amid a poor run of results ( Image: Getty Images)

Newey joins rivals
Legendary designer Adrian Newey has decided to leave Red Bull. The burning question is: where will he go next?

Ferrari were initially tipped as favourites, but doubts remain over whether Newey, 65, is willing to spend significant time in Italy. McLaren and Mercedes are also potential destinations.

If Newey decides to join one of their three biggest rivals, it would be a hammer blow to Red Bull with the 2026 rule changes on the horizon. The Milton Keynes-based team would surely prefer him to join a team further down the grid, like Aston Martin or Williams, where he previously designed championship-winning cars.

Aston Martin, who have made him a sizeable offer, would be an attractive proposition, given their investment in plush new facilities and big-name appointments behind the scenes, such as ex-Mercedes engine guru Andy Cowell.

Lewis Hamilton
Adrian Newey is weighing up his next move ( Image: PA)

More Red Bull rows
Verstappen’s dad, Jos, has reignited his feud with Horner. Having previously warned the team would “explode” if Horner didn’t leave in March, he then accused the Brit of blocking him from driving an old Red Bull car as part of a track parade at the Austrian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton
Relations between Christian Horner and Jos Verstappen have completely broken down ( Image: (Image: Getty))

Ferrari make it a four-way fight
Much like Red Bull’s pace advantage, Ferrari’s form has fallen off a cliff in recent races. However, there could be light at the end of the tunnel for the Scuderia, who thrive at lower-speed tracks, winning at Monaco with Charles Leclerc.

Next up is one of the tightest circuits in F1, Hungary, where a four-way fight for victory could be on the cards. That would be a dream scenario for F1 fans, but a potential nightmare for Verstappen and Red Bull.

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