Verstappen's Potential Red Bull Exit Doesn't Make Sense To Szafnauer: 'Why Leave?'

Friday, 10 May 2024 at 18:00
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Otmar Szafnauer (former F1 team principal) discussed Max Verstappen's potential and currently highly-discussed exit from Red Bull Racing.
It is said Max Verstappen started seriously considering leaving Red Bull when Helmut Marko's future in the team was put at stake.
The Dutchman and his camp talked with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, and even though he might not want to leave the team today, Wolff keeps chasing him and keeps the door open (for Verstappen) for as long as he can.
The recently announced departure of Adrian Newey suggests friction inside the team, but the triple World Champion clarified that his future stays the same and that he isn't planning to leave Red Bull at the moment.
Assessing the situation, former F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer told RacingNews365 that he would really try to retain the Dutchman if he were in Christian Horner's shoes.

"I’m guessing, I’m not speaking from knowledge, [but] if I was Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] I would try to keep him."

"He's great, we're lucky to see a guy like Max racing while we're involved. For me, if I was Max for example, as long as Red Bull is performing to the level that they are, I would stay."

As it stands, the 26-year-old's most sensible option seems to be staying with Red Bull, which could most probably offer him a championship-contending car even for 2025.

"For 2025, with the Honda power train and apart from Adrian [Newey, who will depart early next year], everyone else is the same, you’ve got a good chassis, the regulations aren’t changing - why leave?"

However, some problems might emerge in 2026 when F1 enters new regulations and Red Bull has to produce their own power unit for the first time.
If the Austrian team failed to build a competitive power unit, they might fall even all the way to the back of the midfield, and that's not where Verstappen would want to be racing.
On the contrary, Red Bull might also get everything right again and extend their winning streak beyond 2025, even though it's unclear what will happen. Szafnauer added he would stay with Red Bull if he were Verstappen.

"2026 is a huge change, no one knows [what will happen]. The power train will change as well, no one knows about that."

"It's a massive change, and then you've got to guess 'where is the best spot I can pick?'. But for me, [for] 2025, I would stay."