Max Verstappen is not opposed to racing for “very different” Mercedes with its more corporate environment, saying if a team wants you, they’ll “adjust certain things”.
After Mercedes boss Toto Wolff passed up on the offer to sign Verstappen early in his career, the Dutchman linked up with Red Bull, and in 2015 at just 17 years of age, he made his F1 debut with their junior team, then called Toro Rosso.
A year later he was promoted to Red Bull, replacing Daniil Kvyat at the Spanish Grand Prix, and went on to win the race ahead of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Max Verstappen: It’s always important to be yourself and keep telling it like it is
Since then he’s racked up a total of 45 wins for the Milton Keynes squad, two Drivers’ Championship titles, and a Constructors’ crown.
And he’s had a lot of fun along the way from caravan racing to bumper cars, although he has been banned from September’s Nordschleife event.
Red Bull’s perceived approach is a lot more relaxed than rival Mercedes’ with the latter having a more corporate image.
Asked if he could work in that environment, Verstappen replied to De Telegraaf: “It is indeed a very different environment.
“It’s always important to be yourself and keep telling it like it is. Then it doesn’t matter to me where that is.
“If a team really wants me in such a situation, they will also go for you and I think you can also slightly adjust certain things. Then you come together, so to speak.”
But given that he and Red Bull not only fit but are in the midst of a period of dominance, Verstappen’s not going anywhere.
“In the past, I never could have imagined that I would achieve this success,” he said. “I dreamed of reaching Formula 1 and maybe one day driving for a top team. This is what I’ve always worked for.
“If people now start shouting that it’s boring, so be it. I also know the other side of the coin. I don’t think it’s boring at all.”
Max Verstappen: That was the deciding factor to extend my contract
It’s not boring for Verstappen who is racing toward a third successive World title having taken a 125-point lead over his team-mate Sergio Perez.
His current success is in sharp contrast to his early years with Red Bull where wins were sparse and Mercedes romped from one title to another.
Asked if he ever thought about leaving Red Bull, he replied: “Not that. But I did think will it still work here?
“But we always got back together in the end. A lot has happened within the team over the years. Just look at the switch of engine supplier, from Renault to Honda, and the way in which it is now working on its own engine.
“There was always something to look forward to. That was the deciding factor to extend my contract.”
It’s a contract that runs through to the end of the 2028 season with Verstappen’s Red Bull engines set to be powered by the team’s own power unit come 2026.
Although the power unit project is a first for Red Bull, the Dutchman is confident they’ll get it right although concedes he may not stick around to race in the midfield if they don’t.
“Then it must be very bad and dramatic, I think,” he said. “I also don’t expect a team to fall back that far, with all those good people walking around with us.
“It can always be the case in this sport that you are not doing well as a team. Then it’s about what the outlook is and what the perspective is.
“But indeed, I don’t see myself touring around in midfield for three years. Then I would rather stay at home or do something else. But again: I don’t see that happening.”