Haas Formula 1 team boss Guenther Steiner expects Max Verstappen to pull the longest in the world championship this year. The Dutchman is currently two points behind Lewis Hamilton, but can do good business in the title fight in Turkey this weekend because the British driver has been given a ten-place penalty for an engine change.
The six team bosses who were in the press conference in Turkey on Friday afternoon, were each asked who will take the world title this year. A subject that they were clearly not interested in, after all, it is not their drivers who are fighting for the championship this year. Not all team bosses responded and those who did, kept it short.
“So the question was who I think is going to win the championship? Max, to keep it short,” said Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner. Asked why he is going for Verstappen, the Italian replied with a laugh: “Because he will have more points at the end of the year! Therefore. No, I have no idea why. The question was who do you think it will be and my answer to that is Max.” When asked whether the Red Bull is also the car to beat at the moment, he almost sounded irritated: “I said Max is the driver to beat.”
The answer from AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost can be guessed. “I personally hope for Max,” said the Austrian, with whose team – at the time still active as Toro Rosso – Verstappen gained his first Formula 1 experience, without further elaboration. Alfa Romeo’s Frederic Vasseur foresees a different ending to the 2021 season. “It is difficult to say anything about this. It’s a very exciting fight. Reliability is also an important factor I think and we saw this morning that Lewis had to get a new bike, which results in a penalty. This could be a game changer in the championship as they are so close together that every small event can be decisive. But I’m going for Lewis. Guenther said Max, so I say Lewis.”
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director at Ferrari, considers a world title for Verstappen not unlikely. “Hard to say,” said the Frenchman. “It’s a fantastic fight, after 15 races the difference is only two points, which is great to see. We’ve probably seen a bit more speed with Max in the last races, but I’m sure it will remain an unusually fierce battle until the last race.” Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer was not tempted to mention a name. Szafnauer: “It is very difficult to predict, simply because they are so close together. You have two great drivers, so it’s hard to say. Lewis is very experienced and knows what it’s like to win championships. Max is very fast. Let’s wait and see what happens.”
Williams’ Jost Capito honestly said he doesn’t care who will become world champions this year. “I’m not very concerned with that. We have other problems. So yeah, I don’t care,” he said. “Of course I enjoy the battle that’s going on, but when you’re on the pit wall you’re so focused on what’s happening with your own cars that sometimes at the end of the race I have to ask someone who won.”