Despite a rough 2017, Red Bull F1 young gun Max Verstappen thinks he's got the pace to compete at the top level of Formula 1. A string of reliability issues and crashes have kept the Dutchman from completing seven races this season, putting him far behind his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in terms of points and results. However, this hasn't fazed Verstappen, as he believes he is considerably faster than his 28-year-old Aussie stablemate, saying if it wasn't for issues with his car, he would likely be his team's No. 1 one option.
This comes as a bit of a surprise, as Verstappen has far fewer than half the points of his teammate in 2017. Ricciardo, who was recently dubbed the "most reliable driver in F1" by former Red Bull racer Mark Webber, has claimed a Grand Prix victory and a handful of podiums so far this year. Verstappen argues that he's not at fault for this season's outcome, putting much of the blame on his machine.
"What can I do?" Max told Auto Motor und Sport. "I just have to see the positives of the season, which is qualifying. The speed is there," he continued. "Even in the race, I was always in good positions before I failed."
Some have proposed that Verstappen's driving style has contributed to his issues. Taking risks and driving hard have become trademarks of his technique in F1, but he denies that it has anything to do with the unreliability of his RB13, something team boss Christian Horner has addressed repeatedly.
"My approach is right, so why should I change something? I am fast," Verstappen said to Auto Motor und Sport. "We can see from the telemetry that I don't do anything wrong or different to Daniel. It's just funny that the problems on race day are always on my car."
Speaking of Ricciardo, Verstappen brought up that although his teammate is consistently fast in qualifying, he has proven better on Saturdays in comparison. This, he believes, shows his abilities and what he could do if he were given a car on the level of Mercedes' or Ferrari's.
"Daniel was always known as a fast qualifier," he said. "He is very fast. But I am faster this year by three- or four-tenths on average. That's a lot of time ... I am very self-confident," Verstappen added in his interview with Auto Motor und Sport. "I am also honest and straightforward. I do not lie. The only thing I want is a winning car."
Verstappen has refused to comment on rumors that Honda could be partnering with Red Bull in 2018 as an engine supplier, booting Renault to deal with McLaren and its factory team. Although his Renault powerplant has been the self-proclaimed major issue, it's possible that Honda wouldn't be any better given its track record so far since its F1 return in 2015.