Max Verstappen wins third consecutive Formula One world championship
F1 pundit Ted Kravitz has suggested that Max Verstappen may have let the cat out of the bag at Circuit of the Americas. The Dutchman offering congratulations to long-serving Red Bull engineer Michael Manning sparked suspicion around the paddock, although the team have remained tight-lipped on the matter.
It was another impressive performance from Verstappen as he fought his way forward from sixth on the grid to win the United States Grand Prix. The 2023 Drivers’ Championship is already his, and few can dispute his dominance after prevailing in 15 of 18 races thus far.
Verstappen also outclassed the competition in Saturday’s sprint race, after which he said on the team radio: “Well done Manning, great job there.”
With rumours circling that the message could be a form of farewell from the reigning three-time world champion, Kravitz went to investigate, explaining on Sky Sports: “Michael Manning, the Irish engineer for Red Bull, was just outside the office and I said to him ‘Alright, Michael?’.
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“I know he’s been at Red Bull an awful long time. ‘What’s happening, are you off?’ And he said ‘No comment, that’s confidential.’ So is he there? Is he going to say hello to Manning? Where is Michael Manning? And if Michael Manning is off and he’s just not telling us then, well goodbye Michael Manning. Thank you and goodbye.”
With the Red Bull performance engineer keeping his future plans under wraps, Verstappen seemingly tried to diffuse exit speculation after the race, instead putting his message down to the role Manning played in his impressive start.
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“Yeah, he’s my start guy,” said the 26-year-old. “I mean, the poor guy has had a few tough races, so I was just joking that it wasn’t too bad this time.”
Red Bull have become no strangers to exit rumours over the past few weeks, with driver Sergio Perez and advisor Helmut Marko both in the spotlight. The team deny that Perez will be axed from his seat if he doesn’t secure second place in the Drivers’ Championship, and consequently a one-two with Verstappen.
The Mexican is under contract until the end of next season, but he lags dramatically behind his team-mate in the standings. Meanwhile, Red Bull boss Christian Horner was rumoured to want Marko ousted.
However, the Austrian insists that his future remains in his own hands, and Horner subsequently spoke out on their ‘very strong and open relationship’.
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