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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Max Verstappen: I believe in Red Bull to make a step forward for F1 title fight in 2018

The Dutchman encouraged by his strong end to the 2017 season as he looks forward to next year.

Max Verstappen believes Red Bull Racing can push forward in the 2018 Formula One season. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Max Verstappen believes Red Bull Racing can push forward in the 2018 Formula One season. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Max Verstappen is confident he is in the right place at Red Bull Racing in the years ahead to challenge for the Formula One drivers' world championship.

The Dutch driver had been linked with a move away from the Austrian team when his contract was due to expire in 2019, but he has extended the deal to 2020.

He credited being impressed with how Red Bull worked quickly to rectify problems the RB13 chassis at the start of the season, when it was off the pace, and transform it into a car with which he was able to win in Malaysia and Mexico on his way to finishing sixth in the championship.

"I believe in the team," he told The National at the Tag Heuer lounge on Yas Island during the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend where he finished fifth in Sunday's race.

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"I think I am in the right place. I feel good in the team and the last few races, especially, they definitely did a great job in getting the parts on the car and make it faster."

As to whether he thinks the team can improve enough to give the 20 year old a shot at being the sport's youngest world champion in 2018, he is reluctant to make any bold statements of intent.

"I am not sure," he said of if he could carry the momentum of the end of 2017 into 2018. "The cars, they change a lot. The tyres, you have new compounds. But, hopefully we can. Lately our car has improved a lot and we can be happy with that. But it is too early to really speak about that."

He did add though on the subject: "So I definitely believe in the team that they also can build a great car for next year and learn from their mistakes at the beginning of this year."

It was a season of two halves for Verstappen in 2017. Mechanical failures and collisions with other cars left him with only 68 points from the first 14 races of the season.

A post shared by Max Verstappen (@maxverstappen1) on

But in the final six he scored 100 and he made a comparison to football in describing how he felt his year had gone.

"It always felt like we had a great build-up, like in the football game," he said. "But then just when you are about to score the goal something happens. And that is what I had like until 60 minutes of the football and then everything finally seemed to turn around a bit.

"Of course I am very happy with the last few races and to get two more victories, which I did not think were at all possible after all my retirements, but I am very with the performance and the team.

"They worked really hard to improve the car and finally we have managed to build one of the best cars this year."