The Brilliant Failed Championship Ambitions of Max Verstappen and Red Bull

For several years now, the Formula 1 dominated by the Mercedes team and its six-time world champion driver Lewis Hamilton. But we have Max Verstappen as an asset. The ambitious Limburger seemed to have what it takes to become the youngest world champion of all time and his Red Bull team also has a great desire to win the world championship..

In recent years, Verstappen was actually the only one who could get close to the Mercedes drivers, but still the chances of the championship were small. The difference was simply too big and that was mainly due to the quality and speed of the car, apart from the fact that Hamilton is a great racer of course. The disadvantage was that the final result was often predictable and inveterate fans started to grumble. Max Verstappen sometimes brings life to the brewery through daring actions and spectacular position gains and also the strategy of the team, for example with tire changes met, sometimes yielded something. But in general dullness trumps.

And there it had race year, 2020-2021 need to change. With the Honda engine, Zandvoort back on the calendar and Max another year older and more experienced, the battle would finally break loose. In July, before the start of the season, Verstappen was still lyrical about 'predictable'’ RB16: "Feels like a completely different car".

But it hasn't happened yet. First, the COVID19 crisis turned everything upside down. This is how the Zandvoort Grand Prix was canceled, which is of course a shame for Verstappen and the Dutch fans. In Austria, where Verstappen won last year, he soon fell out with bad luck. And in the first races it turned out that Mercedes was a lot faster and the difference was at least as big as last year. Mercedes also had another innovation: the DAS system, with which through a pull- whether pushing movement on the handlebars can adjust the position of the wheels and increase speed when cornering. The question was whether this adjustment was legal, but at least this season it is allowed. Mercedes also worked on the rear suspension, which is constructed in such a way that the various arms to which the wheel is attached, less in the way of the wind.

"Mercedes has such a huge lead". That is precisely why I cherish every spot that I win.”


Hamilton won three of the first four races and is already a street length ahead of Max Verstappen. In fact, he had such a big lead in the last race that he was able to finish the last race with a flat tire on a rim. In short: the ambition to become world champion already seems to have failed in the first part of the season. I'm not saying it's impossible, because that's why you never know with Verstappen, but the start is clear for the Briton and he is already well on his way to his seventh world title. Can someone stop him? "No", is Verstappen clear and ready. "Mercedes has such a huge lead". That is precisely why I cherish every spot that I win.”


We have seen many failures pass by. Often there are "universal lessons" to be learned from them; patterns or learning moments that transcend a specific experience and apply to many other innovation projects as well. Based on these patterns, we have 16 developed archetypes to help you identify and learn from failures. The archetypes that we see at Verstappen are:

Verstappen had to deal with an unexpected event several times, that had an impact on the realization of his plans.

Only one can win and Verstappen and Red Bull are unlucky to be active in the same period as the Hamilton and Mercedes combination.

Where Red Bull develops along the path of evolution and thus builds on existing approach, Mercedes innovates radically, for example via the DAS construction.

De VIRAL-score

To qualify the failure and describe how brilliant it is, we developed a score score, the so-called VIRAL score. This is a measure of the brilliance of the failure. The score consists of five components: V (Vision), I (Effort), R (Risk management), A (Approach) in L (Lessons). Together these factors form the word VIRAL and that is no coincidence, because after all, it is about learning experiences that should not be hidden, but deserve to be distributed, so have to go 'VIRAL'!

  • V = Vision: 9
    Becoming world champion in F1 is of course a great goal within this sport. Not everyone likes it, but this is for the fans.

  • I = Bet: 10
    There goes years of practice, persevere and put a lot of money in it (in the end many tens of millions). And Max races with all his heart.

  • R = Risk: 7
    You know that you are dealing with strong opponents and that you have to push your limits in every way. These risks are part of it, both as a team and a driver and I think maybe there could be a little more risk taking with regard to. it (her)car design. Max takes sufficient and, in my opinion, responsible risks, although some think it goes too far sometimes.

  • A = Approach: 8
    Max is doing great and the car is not bad either. There is also good teamwork, this became apparent, for example, during the race at the Hungaroring where he broke his steering rod during the warm-up lap, but by miraculously fast repair he was able to start and become second. The only point of criticism is the somewhat traditional-looking improvement process of the car compared to Mercedes.

  • L = Learning: 6
    Max learns quickly and Red Bull can also move forward with all the analyses. But the learning process must be faster, because the competition doesn't stand still either. So far this is relative to the other points and perhaps also to Mercedes the weakest point.


All in all a spacious 8. A real brilliant failure and I sincerely hope that with the second one, or actually the sixth chance it will still work. And another time later. Hamilton will replace Schumacher's record of 7 equal and perhaps surpass championships, but Max Verstappen's time will surely come. Whether that will happen with Red Bull, that is of course waiting.