Max Verstappen sets minimum requirement for Red Bull amid Lewis Hamilton title challenge
Can Max Verstappen’s Red Bull provide a credible challenge to Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton?
Max Verstappen says a podium finish at every race is the ‘worst-case scenario’ for Red Bull in 2020 as they target a title challenge. Mercedes are once again the favorites for the title with Lewis Hamilton targeting a record-equalling seventh World Drivers’ Championship.
Outside of Hamilton’s team-mate Valterri Bottas, Verstappen and the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc are expected to provide the challenge to the Silver Arrows.
Verstappen committed his future to Red Bull by signing a new deal which tied him down until 2023 but will want a car that is genuinely capable of competing for the title.
Red Bull is said to be happy with the progress made in the winter by their engine manufacturer Honda which should provide Verstappen with some optimism.
But the Dutch driver has lofty ambitions and says third-place finishes have to be their minimum requirement on race weekends.
“We’ll try to do better this year, of course, we want to fight for the title,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.
“Last year, at some rounds we couldn’t really mount a fight – but you need to collect points as much as you can”
“I hope this year onwards we are fighting for a podium at least, and the worst-case scenario is third.”
“As a team, we are targeting the title, we, of course, want to fight for the title and we want to do well.”
“Time will tell and it is difficult to say, but we are doing everything we can to try and step up.”
Verstappen’s deal with Red Bull keeps him away from the clutches of Mercedes, who have been linked with the 22-year-old in the past.
Hamilton is yet to sign a new contract and has entered the final year of his current deal.
And Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed tying Verstappen down was influenced by the fear of losing him to Mercedes.
“It was difficult for us to estimate what the exact story is between Ferrari and Hamilton,” Marko told Auto Motor und Sport last month.
“But it was clear that Mercedes must act if Hamilton were to go to Ferrari in 2021. Max would have been the first driver they’d aim for.”
“That was a very important step for us. Now we can look to the future with more confidence.”
Verstappen will be hoping to lay down a marker to his rivals when the 2020 F1 season starts in Australia next month.