Formula 1: Red Bull’s key for Max Verstappen in 2021

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) /

Can Red Bull overcome the pressure of competing with Mercedes to keep Max Verstappen’s confidence in the team beyond the 2021 Formula 1 season?

As usual, Red Bull are travelling into the new Formula 1 season with plenty of promise. With the new arrival of Sergio Perez, could 2021 be the year they compete for the lucrative titles?

However, that should not be the team’s main objective for the upcoming season.

During the build-up to most recent seasons, Red Bull have always had the pressure of competing for wins and titles, toppling Mercedes. And 2021 is not much different if we are being perfectly honest.

However, competing and maybe winning the titles that have eluded them for a number of years now cannot be their main goal.

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A goal nearing the size of winning is maintaining the belief and spirit in the team from their main star, Max Verstappen.

It has become obvious in recent seasons and continues to become more obvious that Red Bull’s next title charge will be spearheaded by the Dutchman. He will be the catalyst. For the first time since the departure of Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen will be supported by a driver with more top flight experience, a proven race winner. It was an acquisition Red Bull needed to make, and now.

Verstappen has remained loyal to his team, and penning a deal at the start of 2020 that runs through the end of 2023 was a big win for the Milton Keynes outfit. For them to be successful, continuity is key, as it is in every sport. More continuity means more cohesion. But cohesion can be broken as easily as it is created. One wrong sentence in the media and questions are asked.

Red Bull could potentially be going down a rocky road, a road similar to the Repsol Honda team in MotoGP. All their eggs are in one person’s basket. When that person does not perform, or in Marc Marquez’s case, cannot perform, that team enters all sorts of trouble.

In Red Bull’s case, their eggs remain in Verstappen’s basket, with some now being able to fall into the other driver’s lap, which is a welcome advantage to have. But with 2021 being the last season with the current regulations, is success during the upcoming season that crucial for driver and team?

Well, yes.

Apart from success always being nice, success in 2021 would do wonders for the team in terms of belief, spirit and confidence. But again, this swings both ways. Red Bull cannot afford many more seasons playing second fiddle, as it would create huge tolls on the team and drivers, especially with the talent Red Bull have behind the wheel.

With a performance clause already confirmed to be in Verstappen’s contract, another year playing rear gunner to Mercedes would be detrimental. Over time, trust issues will take effect. How can you trust a team which promises so much but produces so little? You really can’t.

Hot. Will Red Bull do enough to retain Max Verstappen?. light

Let’s not play dumb here. We all know where Verstappen would end up if he were to leave Red Bull anytime soon. It is kind of obvious. But why would he leave if his spirits within the team remain high? That is the most important factor.

If 2021 is to be a success for both parties, or — who are we kidding — a success for just the driver, the belief within the team would skyrocket as the new regulations approach. And then the question would be, why would he leave?

Confidence is an invisible yet visible factor needed within every team in any sport if they want success. And in Formula 1, a driver has to have confidence in their team, and it works the other way.

The team has to have confidence in their driver. They are the ones paying them, after all. You would have to delve very deep into the archives to find a success story in Formula 1 where the team and driver were not working in unison.

That is the potential huge rock, maybe even boulder, in the road for Red Bull going forward. As mentioned previously, Verstappen will be the catalyst in their success, but he has to continue to have the Red Bull spirit. If 2021 happens to be a repeat of recent years, his departure would leave Red Bull in a sticky situation.

A very large sign on the fortunes of Red Bull and Verstappen fortunes for the upcoming season will be their opening races. The team is well known for developing their cars slowly and beginning the season on their back foot, as Verstappen has mentioned before.

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2021 is already squeezing a lot of pressure onto the Red Bull team. Can they finally overcome it?