Plooij after Red Bull announcement : “I think that’s kind of scary.”

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After months of waiting it is finally here; the Formula 1 season starts with the Austrian Grand Prix. Jack Plooij talks about what to expect from the first race of the season. How are Red Bull Racing and Honda going to show up on the Red Bull Ring and of which names does Max Verstappen have the most competition to fear in 2020?

“Let’s start in Austria with two wins for Max”, Plooij enthusiastically kicks off the conversation with GPBlog. Red Bull says it has never been better prepared for the start of a season, but Ziggo Sport’s pit reporter thinks that’s a bold statement. “I find that a bit scary. Of course it’s absolutely true, because the track suits the Red Bull well and Max has performed well in the last two years. All the lights are on green, but it’s still motorsport”.

Albon as teammate of Verstappen

Verstappen will go for its first world title in 2020. If the 22-year-old Dutchman succeeds in that mission, he will be the youngest Formula 1 world champion ever. To achieve this he will have to deal with team mate Alexander Albon, among others. When asked what role the British Thai will play next year, Plooij answers: “I have no idea. He will have to come along. He will have to get out of the way (for Verstappen, ed.). I don’t think he can threaten Max, he’s going to take points away from the competition.”

Another challenger, and probably the biggest competitor, is Lewis Hamilton. A titanic battle is expected and Plooij also suspects some fireworks. “I think Max is going for it, it has to be. You have to go full house, otherwise it makes no sense at all.”

What’s Vettel going to do?

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel also wants to win the world championship in his farewell year at Ferrari. However, Plooij does not expect Vettel to draw his own plan and cause problems for his Italian employer and team mate Charles Leclerc. “Sebastian wants to say goodbye with his head held high. He prefers to do so as world champion. That chance is definitely there, absolutely. But a lot of things have to go well.”

From Hamilton and Verstappen we know that they will probably be aggressive at the start of the Red Bull Ring races. Plooij also likes to add Vettel to this list. “I think you see the aggression the most at Vettel. I think Vettel is going to put his teeth into the wheel. Of course, he also thinks, “Come on, work me out a bit, are you completely fooled”. That’s not frustration, you know. He’s old and wise enough. He’s experienced, he wants to show it.”

Plooij places high demands on Honda

For Verstappen and Albon next year will also depend on the Honda engine. Can the Japanese power unit compete with those of Mercedes and Ferrari? “They have to. The goal was to be there in 2020 and perhaps even to become world champion. So they have to.”

Let’s go back to Ferrari, because it is smart that they have chosen to bring out already prior to the year that Vettel will be replaced by Carlos Sainz in 2021. “I think that’s smart”, replies Plooij. “All arrows can now go in the right direction. In any case Sainz won’t be in the way of Ferrari now. I think it’s smart what Ferrari and McLaren (with Daniel Ricciardo) have done”.

Financial situation Renault

At Renault there is still a place available next to Esteban Ocon for 2021. Should Abiteboul choose Fernando Alonso, or…? “I have no idea. I guess they just can’t pay Alonso. Things aren’t going so well at Renault. Otherwise they’d have called it a long time ago, I guess. They’d have gone along with that hype of announcements with Vettel, Sainz and Ricciardo. I think it just doesn’t work out moneywise.”

In any case, Plooij would welcome a return of Alonso in the royal class. “I’d love it. Maybe they’ll leave the rumors behind for now and come later. It might be possible”, he did not dare to exclude a third period of Alonso at Renault.


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