The Max Verstappen camp is understandably unhappy that Red Racing Racing have been Red Bull Missing since the summer break. Could Mclaren-Mercedes make themselves a worthy team for the young Dutchman to consider racing for if Red Bull-Honda don’t deliver a championship winning car in 2020?
It must be strange being Max Verstappen. To be regarded as one of the most natural talents in recent times, but to consistently struggle to secure the fastest cockpit on the grid. But that’s how Formula 1 can sometimes be, ask Fernando Alonso.
Red Bull Racing are proven race winners, but in the hybrid-turbo era of Formula 1, they are far from being considered as championship contenders. Yes, the team is working hard to ensure that the 2020 Formula 1 season isn’t another where all they target are race wins. After all, the end of the 2019 Formula 1 season will mark the 6th season since Red Bull Racing last won their World Championship titles. While Red Bull Racing know that in Honda lies their best bet, that may not necessarily hold true for Max Verstappen.
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At the end of 2020, Verstappen would’ve raced in 124 races – 101 of those would’ve been with Red Bull Racing, waiting for the team to give him tools that allow him to challenge for the Drivers’ Championship. That’s 5 seasons of waiting – equivalent to the time that Sebastian Vettel has spent at Ferrari. However, Verstappen might feel locked out given that Ferrari (Charles Leclerc) and Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton / Esteban Ocon?) seem to have their driver line-ups secure at least for the next 2-3 years. I certainly don’t think Verstappen will wait that long for his shot at glory in the sport. (Read: With Which Team Will Verstappen Win His F1 Titles?)
The BIGGEST joy that Mclaren-Mercedes could bring to Formula 1 is two more competitive cockpits. It’s just what the sport needs – more teams fighting at the front. Of course, this isn’t a given. Williams-Mercedes struggle in 10th place. But McLaren could do better? The former World Champion team has shown this season that they haven’t forgotten how to build a good car as they now wait to bolt on championship winning power units from Mercedes. In 2020, if Mclaren trouble the top-3 teams on a consistent basis and sneak on to the podium occasionally, could they make a case to the Verstappen camp that they could be a force to reckon with come 2021?
The silly season in 2020 could spice up thanks to Mclaren-Mercedes. Of course, Lando Norris & Carlos Sainz Jr. are locked in, but what if Max Verstappen becomes available? Could Daniel Ricciardo be looking outside of Renault, if 2020 is as much of a dud for the French team as 2019 has been? In the Mclaren-Mercedes arrangement, there are no driver seats agreed (like Mercedes have with Williams) for Mercedes. This means that Mclaren will have full authority on who to put in their cockpits.
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Not to forget Fernando Alonso, who is ever-ready to return to Formula 1 if the correct package came his way. If only he lobbied for a Mercedes instead of a Renault engine, he’d be wondering. But again, would Mercedes have powered Mclaren if Alonso was still one of their drivers? The karma of being Fernando Alonso. If Mclaren build further in 2020, will Alonso put all the pressure he can to get Norris or Sainz’s seat? McLaren may have Red Bull problem – the problem of plenty (drivers).
McLaren-Mercedes will also appeal to the historic fans who’ve moved on from Formula 1. However, if Verstappen to Mclaren-Mercedes does happen, it would appear to be a bigger risk for the driver. He will then have to choose between the known quantity of Red Bull-Honda or the unknown Mclaren-Mercedes. Last year, it was the unknown Red Bull-Honda that Verstappen chose to continue with and it seems that he is yet to be rewarded.
Renault To Exit?
Renault’s focus in Formula 1 would then be about their recovery alone. From supplying to multiple teams a few years ago, they’ll be a solo package from 2021. That’s lack of a reference point for the team as they try crawl back to the front. By 2020, Renault had promised race wins and podiums on a regular basis. However, basis current season form, it seems highly unlikely that Renault will be fighting at the front next season onward.
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Also for Renault, they’ll be earning lesser from Formula 1 (reportedly $16 million per annum per customer) – the loss of revenue from power unit customer(s). For a manufacturer, the R&D costs are more affordable if they can be split between many rather than one team. You aren’t alone if all these developments lead you to believe that Renault could exit from Formula 1 at the end of 2020. Well, it certainly won’t be for the first time and hopefully not the last either.