Haas team boss Guenther Steiner joked that hopefully Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc becomes the next World Champion after Max Verstappen, as that would be good news for Haas.
Formula 1 is very much in the era of Verstappen, the Dutchman winning a remarkable 19 grands prix out of 22 in the latest season of action, securing his third World Championship in as many years.
His tally of 575 points was more than double that of Red Bull team-mate and Championship runner-up Sergio Perez, as the team’s first one-two finish in the standings was confirmed.
Charles Leclerc title-worthy Ferrari would be good for Haas
Ferrari found themselves in the chasing pack alongside Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin in F1 2023, looking for an answer to clip the wings of the dominant Red Bull team.
Only Ferrari found one in grand prix trim, Carlos Sainz taking the win in Singapore to deny Red Bull the undefeated season.
Ferrari, then, are looking to stack the wins in F1 2024 and beyond and a challenger of that level would be good news for Haas as well, the team having enjoyed a technical partnership with the Scuderia, which sees them rely on all permitted Ferrari parts, since joining the grid in 2016.
Asked by Sky F1 who he thinks succeeds Verstappen as F1 World Champion, Steiner, with a smile, replied: “I hope Charles, because that means that they have got a good package and then we have got a good package!”
Whether any driver knocks Verstappen off his perch in F1 2024 remains to be seen, a tall task awaiting all drivers to do so considering the display of dominance last season, plus the fact Red Bull switched focus to F1 2024’s RB20 mid-season, such was their performance advantage.
Steiner though believes Verstappen will face competition from somewhere in F1 2024, hinting that will come from Mercedes’ seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton by talking up his impressive physical shape and motivation.
“I think somebody will challenge Red Bull, Max next year I will say,” Steiner predicted, “I think that we will have that one in 2024.
“For me, Lewis, I don’t think he will stop. I mean, physically, you would never think he’s 38 or next year 39. He is very fit and I don’t think he’s ready to stop doing it because I think he likes what he does.”
Hamilton went a second F1 season winless in 2023, but has re-committed to the Mercedes recovery charge, signing a contract extension running until the end of 2025.