After being asked, Max Verstappen has reportedly told Red Bull bosses that he wants Nico Hulkenberg to be his team-mate next season.
With Alex Albon struggling this season and Pierre Gasly staying with AlphaTauri, Hulkenberg’s chances of driving alongside Verstappen in 2021 look to be growing.
The Dutchman enjoys a good relationship with the German, with the two often seen conversing in Dutch when in the paddock together.
Nevertheless, while stating that he’d be happy if Hulkenberg was signed, he has previously said that he’s not too fussed who his team-mate is.
“I don’t make the decision,” he told Ziggo Sport.
“Of course they [Red Bull] ask for my opinion, but in the end, it doesn’t matter to me [who gets the seat]. We wait for it.”
However, reports from both De Telegraaf and F1 Insider now claim that, when his bosses asked him for his opinion during the Portuguese Grand Prix race weekend at Portimao, he made it clear that he wanted Hulkenberg to be given the nod.
“F1-Insider.com knows: Verstappen [is] also making a policy [pushing] for Hülkenberg internally,” the German site says.
“The fact that the two get along well is partly due to Hülkenberg’s origins. His home town Emmerich is located on the Dutch border, and the German even speaks Dutch well.
“But more importantly, Verstappen knows that he needs support in his own camp for 2021 in the duel against the dominant Mercedes.
“And Verstappen knows: you need [a team-mate with] healthy self-confidence and stable mental strength. His former teammate Daniel Ricciardo had that, and so does Nico Hülkenberg.”
The site also asked Helmut Marko about the matter. While the Austrian confirmed that Verstappen has made his opinion known, he didn’t go into any further detail, and played down the importance of the connection between the Dutchman and Hulkenberg.
“In 2020 it didn’t work out, but in 2021 we want to finally make the attack on Mercedes and make Max the world champion, even if he can’t become the youngest champion anymore,” he said.
“We also ask Max for his opinion on the driver question. We know his opinion too.
“But whether a driver can speak Dutch is not decisive, because the team language is English.”