Home Sport Lewis Hamilton replaced, huge Red Bull shake-up – Max Verstappen's nightmare summer...

Lewis Hamilton replaced, huge Red Bull shake-up – Max Verstappen's nightmare summer break

F1 British Grand Prix 2024

Max Verstappen trailed Lewis Hamilton home at the British Grand Prix (Image: Getty)

A season that began with such unerring dominance, has faltered in recent months for Max Verstappen. After winning 19 races out of 22 last year, another season of F1 tedium looked on the cards thanks to Red Bull’s winning machine.

However, in pleasant and much-needed surprise, Verstappen and Red Bull have been reeled in by their rivals, with Ferrari, McLaren and, most recently, Mercedes all tasting victory this season. It would still take a brave punter to bet against the Dutchman making it four drivers’ titles in a row, but everything is far from rosy in the Red Bull garden at present.

There’s the continuing feud between Verstappen’s dad, Jos, and team principal Christian Horner and the lack of help he is receiving upfront from previously-reliable team-mate Sergio Perez. With the summer break looming, it could get worse for Verstappen…

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Hamilton replaced

If Verstappen decides he’s had enough of internal Red Bull politics or simply wants a fresh challenge, there’s a silver-coloured car still waiting for him. Mercedes are yet to confirm George Russell’s team-mate for 2025 after Lewis Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari threw a grenade into the driver market.

Team principal Toto Wolff has been as subtle as a sledgehammer when asked about his interest in Verstappen, who has been cool, although not dismissive, about the prospect of joining Mercedes. Signing for Mercedes for 2025 would have looked like madness a couple of months ago following another poor start to the season for the Brackley squad.

However, with Mercedes winning the last two races and having finally got to grips with the current regulations, it’s suddenly looking like an attractive proposition. Verstappen has stressed being in the best possible car is key to his future. Only last month he said: “Of course people are talking, but it’s most important that we have a very competitive car for the future. It is very tight on track, but we are working as a team to try and improve.”

However, Red Bull not necessarily having the best car anymore has muddied the waters. If he is having second thoughts about his immediate future, Verstappen may need to make up his mind soon with Mercedes ready to promote teenage sensation Kimi Antonelli, who secured his first F2 victory in the Sprint race at Silverstone. If the Silver Arrows make that decision soon, it could close the Mercedes door on Verstappen, possibly forever.

F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain

Max Verstappen is potentially facing an uncomfortable summer (Image: Getty)

Red Bull shake-up

There’s chaos and uncertainty on the other side of the Red Bull garage as the worst trough of Perez’s career gets deeper and deeper. The Mexican has previously been a dutiful number two and occasionally beaten Verstappen.

However, Perez hasn’t been in the same postcode as his stablemate in recent races, with early qualifying exits, crashes and lacklustre pace. While he signed a new contract recently, there are believed to be performance-related get-outs. It wouldn’t be a shock if Perez is replaced mid-season by Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson, who impressed for the second team, now RB, last season.

Lawson is set to test a Red Bull shortly – the team insist it’s unrelated to the Perez situation – but if the Kiwi impresses, he could be in the car soon. While Lawson is a talent, it would be a big ask to expect him to be up at the sharp end straight away, meaning Verstappen would keep having to plough his own furrow in the battle with McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.

Another option is Daniel Ricciardo, although his form in the RB this season has been nothing to write home about, prompting speculation over his own future. Red Bull don’t seem to be considering Yuki Tsunoda for the first team. Either way, a change of team-mate midway through the season is probably something Verstappen would have liked to have avoided.

F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain

Max Verstappen has come under pressure from Lando Norris and McLaren (Image: Getty)

Newey joins arch-rivals

Legendary designer Adrian Newey has already decided his future lies away from Red Bull. The hot question is, where will he end up? Ferrari were the early favourites, but doubts persist over whether the 65-year-old is prepared to spend so much time in Italy. McLaren and Mercedes are potential options too.

If he joins one of their three biggest rivals, it would represent a massive blow to Red Bull and Verstappen with the 2026 regulations reset looming. They will be hoping Newey accepts a whopping offer from Aston Martin overlord Lawrence Stroll or makes a sentimental return to Williams.

Aston will be tempting given their plush new facilities and big-name hires behind the scenes – like former Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell – but when one of your drivers is Lance Stroll, there’s only so much you can achieve.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice

Relations between Christian Horner and Jos Verstappen have completely broken down (Image: Getty)

Ferrari make it a four-way fight

Much like Red Bull’s pace advantage, Ferrari’s form – Charles Leclarc’s in particular – has fallen off a cliff in recent races. However, there could be light at the end of the tunnel for the scarlet cars, who thrive at lower-speed tracks, winning at Monaco with Leclerc.

Next up is one of the tightest tracks on the calendar, Hungary, where there could be in a thrilling four-team fight for victory. A dream for F1 fans, a potential nightmare for Verstappen and Red Bull.

More Red Bull feuding

It kicked off again between Verstappen’s dad, Jos, and Horner recently. Having said the team would “explode” if the Red Bull team principal didn’t leave in March, he then accused Horner of blocking him from driving an old Red Bull as part of a track parade in Austria.

Horner denied the allegation, but more public sparring will lead to more difficult questions and potential distractions for Verstappen, who said in Austria: “It is not nice, not for myself, not for my dad, not for Christian, and not for the team. You don’t want these things to happen.”

And it may not be a “nice” summer for Verstappen.


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