Max Verstappen rude awakening predicted with Ferrari’s F1 2024 hopes shattered

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen lowers his helmeted head after winning in Saudi Arabia with a prominent Ferrari logo alongside him

Max Verstappen to Ferrari?

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert fears Max Verstappen is yet to show his true pace with the Red Bull RB20 in 2024 in what will be a “worry” for the likes of Ferrari.

Verstappen and Red Bull have enjoyed a perfect start to the new season, with the reigning three-time World Champion leading home consecutive one-two finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstappen to shatter Ferrari’s F1 2024 hopes?

The Dutchman has now won 46 of the last 68 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021.

Another win at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne would see Verstappen match his own record of 10 consecutive victories, just six months after surpassing Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 tally of nine in a row.

Ferrari have emerged as Red Bull’s closest threat in the early weeks of this season, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finishing third in Sakhir and Jeddah respectively. recommends

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But Herbert fears Ferrari and the rest of the chasing pack are in for a rude awakening, claiming Verstappen has not yet operated at his best so far in 2024.

He told “My only little chink of worry is that I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Max this season, because he doesn’t need to show it.

“That’s the worry, that he still has something in his back pocket where he can go: ‘OK, you think you’re closer? There’s another couple of tenths.’

“I think that’s probably the only thing that’s going to be a little bit more of a headache for Charles and Ferrari, and for when Carlos comes back, because [Verstappen] is so comfortable in the car and they are in total harmony together.

“It is still a very rare thing to see someone so at ease with his driving in the car and we still haven’t seen the best of Max anyway.

“I know there’s been all the chitchat over the advantage [Red Bull] have and all the teams have said: ‘Well, they’ve done a better job.’

“That’s all it’s down to – they’ve done a much smarter job than everybody else, but there are smart people in Ferrari that I think can challenge.

“Can they challenge for the Championship? That’s probably the biggest question but I’m not sure they’ll be able to do it quick enough to stop Max going on to win another one.”

Herbert has been encouraged by Ferrari’s start to the season with the new SF-24 car and believes the development race will be key to their hopes of closing the gap to Red Bull.

However, the former Benetton and Stewart star says Verstappen and Red Bull have the “wow factor” with the Dutchman a “very special” driver.

He explained: “The problem [for Ferrari] is the race situation.

“They are at least better off than they were before because their tyre deg is definitely under control. They can basically push the whole way through a race, so that’s good, that’s positive.

“It’s still going to be down to the classic situation that the updates that come along have to make an impact, to improve the Ferrari, of course, but the impact of getting closer and putting Max and Red Bull under pressure.

“Equally, [Red Bull] are going to be doing very similar things but it’s who can do a bigger job. Ferrari should be able to do so just because Red Bull is ahead of the game anyway and ahead of the pack.

“We’re still seeing the incredible Adrian Newey and his team come up with the next-best ideas. It’s been those little bits they’ve always been able to find.

“But at least Ferrari has been able to improve on the situation it was in last year when they were quick but they were awful in a race.

“That now seems to be better and their strategy so far seems to be better. It’s just a little movement in the right direction from a Ferrari point of view.

“But it’s just the wow factor with Max. Everything’s working perfectly and at the present time he’s on top of his game, or at least on top of the best we’ve ever seen from Max.

“He’s confident, he’s got no worries, he feels he’s unbeatable.

“Is it good for Formula 1? No, but you should also enjoy what you’re seeing as well – actually we don’t see him so much because he has always disappeared!

“But it is a very special thing for someone to have this skill that he has.

“In the dry, the wet, or any difficult situation, as we’ve seen with Lewis [Hamilton] and Fernando [Alonso], you should enjoy it as well.

“You just hope everybody else will get closer to challenge them, and I think they will.”

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