F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season
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Former world champion Jenson Button claims that Max Verstappen is the most talented driver in Formula 1 history, despite currently trailing the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton by 14 points in the Driver’s standings going into round five in Monaco.
The former McLaren driver has pitted his wits against both men during his time in the championship, before he retired at the end of 2016, but believes on speed and raw talent alone, the 23-year-old is the full package.
“He’s immensely talented. For raw talent, he’s probably the most talented [in history],” Button said on Sky Sports before the Spanish Grand Prix. “I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on that.
“The most complete driver out there in terms of experience and the way they go about their racing is Lewis Hamilton. But for raw talent, I think it has to be Max. So Red Bull are not going to want to let him go.”
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Hamilton has now recently expressed his desire to stay in F1, but a seed was sown in people’s minds at the start of the season after the Brit opted for a single year deal with Mercedes for 2021.
Much speculation followed, with many suggesting he would step away from F1 if he achieved his eighth world title this season, overshadowing Michael Schumacher in the history books.
His retirement would naturally leave a vacant spot with the Silver Arrows, which has been linked to the likes of Williams driver George Russell, Alpine’s reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg and even Verstappen himself, despite the Dutchman reiterating that he was happy with Red Bull.
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Verstappen also reportedly has a “performance clause” in his Red Bull contract, which runs until 2023, which states the team have to provide him with a car “this season with which he can become World Champion by his own means.” Therefore in theory Verstappen could walk away from Red Bull if certain criteria are not met.
But at the start of the season, the Dutchman said: “At the end of the day, I don’t know what Lewis is going to do.”
“But I just focus on myself, and I’m very focused on this year and trying to make it a success.
“It’s still early in the season, so those kind of things, I’m not really thinking about at this stage.”
But champagne was put on ice amid retirement suggestions, after Hamilton himself admitted he wanted a new contract with Mercedes sorted ‘by the summer break.’
“We don’t want to rush anything but I think we have to be sensible and start conversations,” the seven-time champion declared.
“They’re very complex, so hopefully soon we can start, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the actual job.”
“We never want to be in the position that we were in in January, in February.
“It ruined my whole winter and I’m sure it wasn’t helpful for Toto’s, in terms of being out to be off and relaxed, so it felt like we didn’t really have much of a break.
“We still have 19 races to do but it would be great to get something in place before the break so then we could, again, be in that break and have a clear picture of the future.”
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