Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes Red Bull is teaching Formula 1 a lesson with its approach on drivers.
While Red Bull’s young driver program has been much heralded and brought many young talents into F1, it has also been ruthless in dropping those it feels not quite up to the mark. Criticism in some quarters followed the team’s decision to demote Daniil Kvyat back to Toro Rosso after his troubled home race in Russia, with Max Verstappen promoted from the Spanish Grand Prix.
In his first Red Bull start, Verstappen then underlined his burgeoning talent by becoming the youngest winner in F1 history. Acknowledging the 18-year-old Dutchman’s feat, as well as Red Bull’s policy with its drivers, Abiteboul told Autosport: “It is absolutely amazing.
“We are not really surprised because we worked with him when he was at Toro Rosso last year, and I’ve always been extremely impressed. But more than that we’re impressed by the strategy of Red Bull overall, their capacity to go extreme, go for a target, the best, whatever it takes, whatever people will think.
“After all the criticism, they are giving a big lesson to Formula 1 – so we are going to use that also for our own benefit.”
Verstappen’s new boss Christian Horner joked that his record with Red Bull “could only get worse” but believes that the the teenager and Daniel Ricciardo form F1’s strongest driver line-up.
“I suspect he’ll get stronger as he gets more experienced, more familiar with the car and his confidence will grow,” Horner said of Verstappen. “I really believe we have the strongest pairing of drivers in F1 now. We are in a position where they are on the up now.
“We had a strong start to the year, far stronger than we could have imagined. We felt the second half of the season would be stronger than the first.
“But we were on the podium in China, we’ve won a grand prix in race five. We never even dreamed of that pre-season.”