As Formula 1 returns to Imola this weekend for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Max Verstappen has declared he wants Nico Hulkenberg at Red Bull next season.
With the sport set for perhaps its biggest personnel change ahead of regulation changes in 2022, the Dutchman has shown his hand.
With Verstappen having notched nine podium finishes in 12 races so far this season, teammate Alex Albon meanwhile, has struggled, with just a third-placed finish at Mugello to show for his efforts.
The London-born Thai driver's malaise has prompted questions over his future, but Verstappen as he told Ziggo Sport when quizzed on next season, stated he it 'doesn't matter' who gets the nod as his Paddock companion.
“I don’t make the decision", Verstappen stated.
"Of course they [Red Bull] ask for my opinion, but in the end, it doesn’t matter to me [who gets the seat]. We wait for it.”
Sitting almost a century of points behind Lewis Hamilton as he chases a seventh F1 title, Verstappen can still overhaul his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas for second spot.
Albon meanwhile, has suffered a hugely frustrating season, which could force Team principal Christian Horner into action at the end of the season
Indeed, privately, Verstappen is fighting for Hulkenberg to switch places.
The German become something of a deputy for Racing Point this term for both Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, and finished with top-10 finishes at both Silverstone back in August and the Nurburgring earlier this month.
Verstappen is thought to enjoy a good relationship with Hulkenberg with both conversing often in Dutch, due to Hulkenberg's Emmerich roots on the Dutch-German border.
Verstappen himself has thrown fuel on the fire in telling RTL that, "Nico is a great guy”, stating, "what he did at the Nürburgring was great", whilst playfully adding the German"would be a good teammate."
Red Bull bosses however, will be keen yet to fight Albon's corner, after only last season opting to switch out Esteban Ocon in favour of the Thai driver.
It seems this one could run for some weeks yet.
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