Mercedes have ditched moves for Max Verstappen and given Valtteri Bottas a new contract. Ralph Ellis says that should send a message to the teenage prodigy to up his game...
"This is a big week for Verstappen [9.4] because the twisty, slower speed, higher downforce nature of the Singapore track should give him a big opportunity. It’s suited to the Red Bull cars and the Ferrari."
I very much doubt that Beverley Knight's "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" features anywhere on the playlist of Max Verstappen's iTunes.
But it's been kind of the theme song for Red Bull's precocious teenage driver this season, and again after the Italian Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago.
To be fair it wasn't the Belgian F1 star who was guilty of discussing what might have been, but his team boss Christian Horner. "He was unlucky," claimed the Red Bull team principal. "Had he made the pass he tried and escaped cleanly with Massa he would certainly have been on the podium."
The trouble was that, with the challenge of starting from the back of the grid because of an engine penalty, he didn't make the pass cleanly and got a puncture. So while his team mate Daniel Ricciardo worked patiently from the back to finish fourth, Verstappen ended up scrambling into no higher than 10th.
It has been a tough second season for Verstappen after his move to Red Bull. What began brilliantly has turned into a hard reminder of real life for the 19-year-old.
And just one podium finish after 13 races is almost certainly why Constructors Title leaders Mercedes have now abandoned the idea of poaching him and instead given Valtteri Bottas a new contract.
Bottas may be an unspectacular team mate to Lewis Hamilton. He is [18.0] to win this week's Singapore Grand Prix while the new Drivers Championship leader is [3.8]. But what he lacks in brilliance he makes up in solid consistency - he's only three times failed to get on the podium in 13 races this season.
This is a big week for Verstappen [9.4] because the twisty, slower speed, higher downforce nature of the Singapore track should give him a big opportunity. It's suited to the Red Bull cars and the Ferrari.
Of course that makes it the big chance for Sebastian Vettel [2.44] to regain the title lead he lost in Italy. Matched at one time at [1.64] to win the Drivers Championship he's now [3.1].
But how Verstappen gets on will be the great sub plot of this race, one of the most demanding on the drivers because of the heat and humidity, as well as being testing for the cars because of the temperature drop when day turns to night.
He has moments of brilliance. His drive through the rain in Brazil last season remains one of the great performances of F1 history.
But while he can blame his Renault engine for four of his six retirements this season the other two were down to crashes, and he continues to draw criticism from the other drivers for some of his rash moves.
Verstappen has collected just 68 points so far, less than half the 144 amassed by his team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the same car, so that can't all be down to mechanical issues.
Now that the talk of a move to Mercedes is over, and he's going to remain at Red Bull at least until the end of 2019, he has to start scoring some significant points and on this track he ought at the very least be targeting a podium finish. "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" is not good enough any more.