"Will the Cavallino (Ferrari) finally take a risk with a young driver or renew for a fourth year with Kimi Raikkonen, pleasing Vettel?" Perna wondered.
But in a move that might be interpreted as a winking eye to Ferrari, Verstappen told La Gazzetta that, of his F1 rivals so far, he is the most impressed with German Vettel.
"Drivers that are comfortable with their team and know how to motivate them always stick out to me," he said. "Vettel is a great example of that. I think that spirit is the most important thing for a driver."
Tellingly, Verstappen was also asked if he sees anything to emulate in his Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz.
"Nothing, to be honest," said the young Dutchman, just a week after their rivalry hit a high note with Verstappen's obvious anger in Melbourne.