Max Verstappen © Getty Images
Max Verstappen is strolling towards a third drivers’ world title with metronomic consistency, but there is no driver, or team, emerging as a serious rival to his and Red Bull’s current domination of Formula One.
After a record-equalling 11th consecutive win, the last six from the 25-year-old Dutchman, Red Bull could move a win clear of McLaren’s 1988 record if they succeed again in Hungary later this month – with, or without, Sergio Perez in the second car.
SuperSport looks at three things we learned from an intriguing, if not dramatic, weekend at Silverstone:
PEREZ MUST RECOVER TO KEEP HIS PLACE IN TOP TEAM
After his fifth consecutive failure to reach Q3, Perez’s seat at Red Bull is under threat as the champions bid for back-to-back team titles.
Verstappen dropped several hints over the weekend that a change might be afoot, suggesting he is presently doing all the serious work himself and praising the talent of Ricciardo.
The Australian is midway through a ‘year out’ of racing, knows the team well as a former driver and is keen to return next year. For Perez, inconveniently, he is on good terms with the Dutchman.
Speaking before his 43rd career win on Sunday, Verstappen stingingly remarked: “Obviously, we are also fighting for the constructors’ championship, but I think I’m going to have to do that on my own at the moment….”
Asked about Ricciardo he said: “Daniel is doing a good job in the simulator, which doesn’t surprise me because he hasn’t lost his talent. I think he’s comfortable with us.”
After Sunday’s race, he pointed out that, for now, Red Bull are seemingly unchallenged thus allowing Perez to retain his place in the team and the title race.
Lando Norris’s second for McLaren ahead of Mercedes seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton represented another different runner-up driver and team in an ever-changing scenario that has seen Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes regarded as the leading challengers.
“It’s very confusing to me because every single race weekend, it’s someone else,” said Verstappen after his eighth win this year. “I think it’s because it’s so close behind that if you get your car in a little bit of a better window, it works on one particular track.
“So, for me, I don’t know what’s going to happen in Hungary to be honest, who is going to be quick or second-quickest, but the stable factor so far is that every single weekend, it seems like we are on top, which of course is the most important…”
Verstappen became the fifth driver to win six straight races, joining Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg in an exclusive hall of fame.
MERCEDES READY TO DITCH LATEST ‘DIVA’ AND FOCUS ON 2024
Team chief Toto Wolff made clear in the aftermath of Sunday’s race that Mercedes are set to ditch development of their latest ‘diva’ and focus on next year’s car.
He said the team was disappointed with the result – Hamilton third and George Russell fifth – and he compared the current W14 car to the 2017 machine which was branded as ‘a diva’ for its precocious nature.
“I thought Silverstone was the best shot, but it wasn’t,” he said. “So, maybe there’s another track where we have a best shot, because the characteristics of this car have changed.
“I always believe we can beat Max with a good group of people and the best drivers. We just have to give them a car that is more predictable and not the ‘Diva 2’ which is much more complicated than the first one!”
Wolff added that the team would be switching to focus on their new car “pretty soon” after engine customers McLaren out-performed them.
MCLAREN RECOVERY SIGNALS RIVALS ARE STRUGGLING TO DEVELOP
McLaren’s recovery from a disappointing early season run of form came after an overhaul of the team on and off the track – and signalled that they have the pace to beat Ferrari, Aston Martin and Alpine at some circuits.
Williams also shone again to briefly offer a vision of their halcyon days, but Ferrari suffered a miserable weekend of more largely self-inflicted woes that suggest a revival and title challenge is not in prospect. It is now more than a year since their last win, by Charles Leclerc in Austria.