A double World Champion with Red Bull, and facing very little competition in his quest for a third, Max Verstappen says in hindsight he could say he “saw this coming” but he admits he didn’t know that.
But, he adds, he always believed it would be possible with Red Bull, he just needed to be patient.
Stepping up to Red Bull in 2016, Verstappen won on his debut at the Spanish Grand Prix but that was his only win for the season. The following year he bagged another two wins but that was it leading to rumours he was considering a move to either Mercedes or Ferrari as he wanted to fight for a World title.
Instead he re-signed with Red Bull through to end of 2020, extending that again and then again, the latter of which was a bumper deal signed in March last season that had him commit to Red Bull until the end of the 2028 season.
But on the day he put pen to paper on that contract, Verstappen didn’t know that Red Bull had created a car that would see him cruise to a second World title, or that they’d only grow stronger with the Dutchman 14 points to the good this season as he looks to defend his World title.
“No doubts, but you have to be patient,” he told Motorsport.com of his rise to becoming a double World Champion.
“I have learned to be very patient over the years, but I always believed in this project because I saw how the people worked and how motivated they were to reach the top.
“You can’t force something like that and say we have to win now when at one point we were the third fastest team. It’s a process and then you get a few people in maybe different positions, you get a good group together.
“At a certain point it just clicked from one year to the next. We really made a leap forward.
“Of course, in hindsight it’s easy to say, ‘I saw this coming’. You don’t know that. But I believed in the process because I felt like something was coming.
“We had a few years where it was just a bit of a struggle. Sometimes we had a pretty solid package, but we lacked top speed, which made it very difficult to show the true potential, then came Honda, which was again a bit of a work in progress, but after a year we were already very competitive, which was great to see.”
This season’s Red Bull RB19 is in a league of its own, the Adrian Newey designed car winning five from five with four of those coming in 1-2 results.
It begs the question if the design guru stays on past his latest contract could Verstappen also commit beyond 2028.
“Well, nothing will influence anything to ‘28 because I have a contract so but yeah, I’m very happy of course that Adrian stays, but that goes for everyone in the team, right?” he said.
“I mean, when you’re doing really well, you want to try and keep that whole group together. And that’s of course also the target for the team for the future.”