Verstappen: Hulk call is not for me to make

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg

Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg would be a “good team-mate” says Max Verstappen before insisting he has no say in the matter.

Red Bull is currently evaluating its options for 2021 after Alex Albon failed to set the stage alight.

Although the team has publicly stated that it will be continuing with the Thai-British driver, of late there has been a few more comments about looking around.

Helmut Marko says if the team does, Hulkenberg, who has twice 10 points in his two substitute appearances with Racing Point this season, is on the short list.

“If Albon can continue to develop and improve, then he is a candidate for our car for 2021,” said the Red Bull advisor.

“If Albon doesn’t live up to our expectations, we have to look outside our team,” he added.

“We are strong enough to handle all drivers. And then the two well-known candidates Perez and Hülkenberg come into the game.”

Asked for his thoughts on having the German, a good friend of his, as his team-mate, Verstappen told RTL that he’s open to it but that the decision belongs solely to his Red Bull bosses.

“Of course I can’t say anything from my side,” the nine-time grand prix winner told RTL. “But Nico is a great guy.

“What he did at the Nürburgring was great. I think he would be a good team-mate.

“But it is not my decision!”

Verstappen heads into this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, round 12 of the 17-race season, third in the Drivers’ standings on 147 points.

While he is 83 behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton, his gap to second placed Valtteri Bottas is only 14 points.

Asked what he has to do to catch Bottas, he replied with a laugh: “Nothing . I don’t care if I come second or third in the end.”

Asked if it was all about taking another win or two this season, he said: “Exactly!”

Verstappen has taken one win so far this season, triumphant at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

He is one of only two drivers outside the Mercedes team, the other being Pierre Gasly, to have won a race.

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