Red Bull chief explains Verstappen to Mercedes stance amid Lewis Hamilton retirement talk | F1 | Sport

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Red Bull Racing staff principal Christian Horner will not be frightened concerning the prospect of Max Verstappen leaving for pastures new within the close to future. The proficient Dutchman has been tipped as a possible substitute for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes when the reigning champion’s one-year contract expires on the finish of the season.

Reports earlier this month have linked the Silver Arrows with a shock transfer for Verstappen in time for the widespread regulation adjustments in 2022, amid uncertainty over Hamilton’s future within the sport as soon as the upcoming season reaches its conclusion.

Mercedes have managed to maintain Red Bull at arm’s size for seven years on the trot, main to hypothesis surrounding a transfer away for the 23-year-old if he grows bored with enjoying second fiddle to Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

However, Horner will not be involved by the murmurs, claiming his staff are totally targeted on the elements they’ll management quite than getting caught up in rumour forward of the upcoming season.

“I think I’ve been around too long to worry too much about what others are doing,” he informed Autosport. “The most important thing for us is to concern ourselves with what we’re doing.

“And it’s enormously essential for ourselves, and clearly Max, to construct on the potential that we’ve proven. That’s our goal.

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“I’m not really paying a great deal of attention to speculation. It’s: ‘we need to control the things that we have at our disposal and we need to maximise our own performance’, which is absolutely our combined objective for this year.”

Verstappen is preparing for his sixth season in F1 with the hope of improving on last year’s third-placed finish in the Drivers’ Championship, once again ending the campaign behind both Mercedes drivers.

He will partner new boy Sergio Perez in the RB16B, Red Bull’s challenger for 2021 that was unveiled on Tuesday.

The Mexican got his first taste of on-track action with the team shortly after the reveal, racing the 2019 car around Silverstone ahead of Wednesday’s shakedown session involving the new set of wheels and both drivers.

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Horner revealed that he feels Red Bull are in ‘reasonable shape’ ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28, hailing his colleagues for their efforts amid the crippling effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the F1 paddock.

“It’s been busy,” he added. “The staff have carried out an incredible job working across the challenges that we’ve confronted. Generally, I feel we’re in affordable form.

“I think we’ve been assisted by the fact that there’s a large percentage of the regulations that are carried over, which is unusual.”

Verstappen and Perez will obtain an enormous clue with regards to their title possibilities at pre-season testing at the start of March.

Teams can have simply three days to get to grips with their new equipment in a condensed testing programme on the Bahrain International Circuit, with F1 chiefs deciding to transfer away from Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya whereas it undergoes monitor format alterations.

Horner’s Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff has backed Red Bull to get pleasure from a powerful marketing campaign in 2021 regardless of their shortcomings within the face of the German outfit’s dominance.

Wolff instructed final week that the Silver Arrows may battle after new guidelines on flooring construction have been launched, doubtlessly opening the door for Red Bull, who’re identified for his or her sturdy aerodynamics, to shut the hole.

“The change to the floor, from which a part has to be cut out basically, is decisive in a technical sense,” he informed Speed Week.

“It has forced a rethink of the entire concept. So we cannot rule out that Red Bull or Aston Martin will come up with a better solution.”

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