Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has signed an extension to his Red Bull contract meaning he will now stay with the team until the end of the 2020 season.
The twenty year old has been the recent star of the Red Bull young drivers program, having made his F1 debut at the age of 17 with Toro Rosso. He very quickly made a name for himself thanks to his aggressive overtaking and determination, and in 2016 was promoted to the Red Bull team at the expense of Daniil Kvyat. Since then he has gone on to win two races for the team and has been the driver every team has wanted to land for their line up.
“Red Bull has always shown their faith and belief in me with actions,” Verstappen said when asked about his decision. “They have always backed me and my ambition and I know we share that ambition. I’m very happy to commit further to Red Bull Racing and I’m looking forward to working together to enjoy more success in the years to come.”
Verstappen’s current contract with Red Bull was due to expire at the end of 2019, and both Ferrari and Mercedes seemed to be interested in signing the young Dutch superstar to their team. However in a move that has caught everyone by surprise, Verstappen has opted to commit to another three years at Red Bull. As Verstappen’s previous deal ran until 2019, his new contract effectively amounts to a one-year extension – but on what is likely to be on a vastly increased salary.
“We gave him his first chance in Formula 1 and now we want to be, together with Max, the youngest world champion. We saw his potential, he is still developing, he believes in the team and we extended the contract until 2020,” said Red Bull team advisor Dr Helmut Marko, the man who runs the Red Bull young driver program “Of course we discussed everything with Max. He knows what our plans are, he knows what are alternatives are, and this convinced him to extend the contract,” he said.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added: “We are delighted that Max has agreed to extend his contract with Red Bull Racing. We had a phenomenal start together in Spain last year and Max has only pushed on from there. It was a great moment for the whole team to see him put the frustrations of this season behind him in taking that fantastic victory in Malaysia last month. Max is right to be hungry for success and we are looking forward to extending that journey with him in our hunt for Formula One World Championships. As we now look to the long term with Max he is in the best place in the sport to build a team around him to deliver our shared ambition.”
The 2016 season has been a mixture of highs and lows for the Red Bull team, and especially for Verstappen. At the beginning of the season due to an issue regarding wind tunnel correlation and the RB13, the car was over a second slower than the Ferrari and Mercedes cars. Verstappen meanwhile has suffered seven retirements in the last fifteen faces, many of which have been a result of mechanical failures on his Red Bull. The team have appeared to be on top of that now and are enjoying something of a late season revival. The good news for the team is Verstappen’s contract extension also spares them from a nightmare scenario in which both the Dutchman and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, whose contract expires at the end of next season, would have left in the near future.