Formula 1’s ‘old married couple’, former F1 engineer Ernest Knoors says he could “well imagine” Max Verstappen quitting the sport if he lost his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.
By his side since his very first Grand Prix with Red Bull in 2016, ‘GP’ as he is known, has helped guide Verstappen to 54 Grand Prix wins and three Drivers’ Championship titles.
They’ve had their ups and downs, the two at times arguing with one another over the radio, leading to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner calling them an “old married couple”.
‘Whether it will come to this in reality?’
But such is their relationship, Verstappen says he’d quit the sport if he couldn’t have ‘GP’ by his side.
“I told him, when he decides to quit, I’ll leave Formula 1 too. I only want to work with him,” Verstappen said after winning his first World title in 2021.
More recently he has spoken about their “very honest relationship, very straightforward”, joking that Red Bull should put together a “compilation of all our radio messages throughout the year“.
But given the close-knit relationship, it is not inconceivable to think Verstappen could retire if ‘GP’ walked away.
“I can understand that,” former Bridgestone engineer Knoors told Racingnews365.com. “Whether it will come to this in reality?
“Someone like Lambiase, an engineer in general, may have other reasons for quitting. This may have to do with family because it is a very intensive job.
“All kinds of things can go wrong, causing someone to be forced to stop.
“Max will eventually stop when he is ready, I think. He will certainly want to keep the team he currently has around him together as much as possible, but I can well imagine that it will have a huge impact on Max if there is a core person disappears.
“Whether he stops is up to him, but it will certainly have an impact on the way he works.”
As for ‘GP’, he too cannot see himself working with a Formula 1 driver other than Verstappen.
“The day Max and I no longer work together in this setting will be the day I’m ready for a new challenge,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s fair to another driver if we try to replicate what I’ve done with Max since May 2016.
“I see this as something incredibly special and don’t think something like this will happen again.
“So, I hope that we continue in this way at least until 2028, unless he or the team decides otherwise, of course.”