“I Don’t Blame Him”: Max Verstappen Reacts as Red Bull Key Figure Joins F1 Rivals

“I Don’t Blame Him”: Max Verstappen Reacts as Red Bull Key Figure Joins F1 Rivals
Credits: IMAGO/Nur Photo

Max Verstappen‘s former ally Lee Stevenson has recently joined Sauber after spending an illustrious 18 years with Red Bull. Stevenson was one of the prominent engineers who worked in the Austrian team and shot into fame for being the chief mechanic of the Dutch champion. As his former mechanic is moving on the other side of the pit lane, Verstappen does not “blame” him for the choice.

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The three-time champion began to work with Stevenson from 2016 until the latter moved to a different role in 2020. Despite this, he revealed that he is still in touch with “Leroy” and shares a good relationship, even after the British engineer’s wish to jump ship.

“He [Stevenson] got a great opportunity at Sauber, and I don’t blame him for trying something new,” said Verstappen to AutoSport ES Formula as per Junaid Samodien on X. “And yeah, sometimes in life, you get opportunities and you maybe go a bit out of your comfort zone. You try something new. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back, right? So, so good.”

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Stevenson began his F1 career with Jordan GP back in 2000 and then moved to Red Bull in 2006. He started his journey in the Milton-Keynes-based team as Number 2 mechanic and rose through the rank to Number 1, a few years later in 2014.

The British engineer stayed in this role till 2020 and during this time he worked with Max Verstappen. Following this, he has served as the Chief Mechanic for Red Bull’s support team as well as its Race team.

Lee Stevenson’s future endeavor, away from Max Verstappen and Co.

Lee Stevenson signed the deal to move away from Red Bull in 2023 and this stopped him from working for them in 2024. He was replaced by Chris Gent, also known as Genty, who worked as his replacement as the Number 1 mechanic to Verstappen as well.

However, reports say that he is back to work for Sauber after completing his gardening leave. According to GP Fans, Alessandro Alunni Bravi of Sauber confirmed the engineer’s presence in Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.

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“He’s in the box and working. He monitors everything. He will then start from the next race. He is here and gets to know the team, the procedures and we expect that he can contribute with his ideas and knowledge after 15 years as chief mechanic at Red Bull,” Bravi adds.

Lee Stevenson’s addition to the squad is regarded as one of the first steps towards restructuring the team for 2026. Through this, Sauber looks to make tracks up the Constructors’ Championship before Audi takes over at the end of next season.

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