In a fantasy scenario in which he was Red Bull team principal, Felipe Massa says Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton would not work – and has opened the door for McLaren star Lando Norris.
Verstappen has established himself as the irresistible force of Formula 1, storming his way to a third World Championship in as many seasons in 2023.
Along the way he has claimed 17 of the 20 grand prix wins on offer so far, beating his own record for most wins in a season, while a streak of 10 victories in succession also set a new Formula 1 record.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at Red Bull a no-go
Appearing on the Track Limits podcast, former Sauber, Ferrari and Williams driver Massa was asked to name the team he would pick if he were to be a Formula 1 team principal, and the two drivers he would put in the challengers.
It was no surprise that he chose Red Bull, the dominant team of this ground effect era, while Verstappen in one of the cars was also an easy choice.
As for his team-mate, Massa knows Hamilton is the answer fans would want, but explained that the former title rivals as team-mates would “destroy” Red Bull.
“That’s really hard, because at the end, you need to have two drivers that work well with the team,” Massa began when faced with the double decision.
“So for sure, if you put Max and Lewis [together], which everybody would say, ‘Oh, I want to have Max and Lewis!’
“It would not work because in the end they would fight, they would destroy the relationship, they would destroy the team and it would not work.”
Lando Norris gets the nod to partner Max Verstappen
So with Hamilton out of the equation, Massa settled on McLaren racer Norris to partner Verstappen, who has in recent years been strongly linked with a future move to Red Bull.
However, while Verstappen and Norris get along well, Massa said such harmony could not be guaranteed if they were battling for wins and titles in the same team.
“So, who will be the two drivers? Maybe Max and Lando Norris,” said Massa.
“I don’t know how the relationship will be, because one needs to win. But it’s two drivers that I really enjoy and I really like.”
Norris is under contract at McLaren until the end of F1 2025, team and driver having their sights set on challenging Verstappen and Red Bull for title glory in the coming seasons.