Red Bull's Verstappen now has basis for first F1 title challenge

Scott Mitchell and Valentin Khorounzhiy
Verstappen now has basis for first title challenge
Verstappen now has basis for first title challenge

Max Verstappen believes he and Red Bull now have a foundation in place to mount a Formula 1 title challenge in 2020, as long as the development step proves sufficient.

Now an eight-time grand prix winner, Verstappen has ranked second only to Lewis Hamilton in F1 team bosses' estimations for the past four years, but has not had the package to fight for the drivers' championship.

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He was a career-high third in the standings last year following Red Bull's switch from Renault engines to Honda.

Though he finished 135 points behind world champion Hamilton, Verstappen believes the pieces are there for him to finally become a genuine title contender.

Asked whether he now saw a foundation for a title challenge at Red Bull, Verstappen told Autosport: "I think so.

"I think we are in the right direction. There's no question about that.

"Now, it's just about how much development we can push through. I more or less know, I just hope it's going to be enough.

"There are no real changes in the regulations anyway, so you can just build on what you have now. And with a second year working with Honda, I think that should help.

"We massively improved the performance of the engine. I think we know where we have to improve on, we've already improved on the car."

Verstappen now has basis for first title challenge
Verstappen now has basis for first title challenge

Verstappen is out of contract at the end of 2020, and has previously stipulated that it will be crucial for Red Bull to be at the sharp end from the start of the season, rather than playing catch-up as it regularly has during the hybrid era, if he is to stay.

"We know that we have to be there from the start if you want to fight for the championship," he reiterated.

He stressed, however, that 2019 was "just very positive" for both him and Red Bull in terms of their execution of race weekends.

"[My] consistency overall was good. I think as a team we did a good job as well," said Verstappen.

"We most of the time maximised the result. It was the only thing we could do, especially in the beginning, [when] we couldn't really fight for wins.

"But we're still overtaking Ferraris, when we're actually slower, or doing a better strategy, stuff like that.

"So if we can keep that up, then we can have a strong year next year."

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