Max Verstappen signs new Red Bull deal

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has extended his Red Bull contract by a year to the end of the 2020 season.

The move seems to end speculation about the possibility of the 20-year-old Dutchman moving to Mercedes or Ferrari within the next couple of years.

He said: “Red Bull has always shown their faith and belief in me.

“I’m very happy to commit further to them and I’m looking forward to working together to enjoy more success in the years to come.”

Verstappen’s previous contract ran until the end of 2019 but had clauses that could have seen him leave at the end of next season, depending on certain circumstances which are not public.

He was promoted to the Red Bull senior team from Toro Rosso part-way through the 2016 season and won his first race for the team at the Spanish Grand Prix.

He has since impressed with a series of starring drives, and took a second career victory in Malaysia two races ago.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: “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.

“He is a pure racer, with an undeniable talent at the wheel and a rare instinct for what it takes to compete consistently at this level.

“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.”

Verstappen is understood to have received a significant pay rise, but in some ways the move is a surprise – Red Bull’s future is clouded in questions, especially over their engine supplier.

The team currently uses Renault engines, but that contract ends next season and the French company has told Red Bull it does not want to continue the partnership.

That makes it likely Red Bull will use Honda engines in 2019, which would be a major blow to their competitiveness if the Japanese company cannot improve its performance.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen
Verstappen took his first win of the season with a dominant display in Malaysia on 1 October

However, it may be that Verstappen realised his options for a move were limited.

Lewis Hamilton is expected to sign a new contract at Mercedes to take him beyond 2018 and the German team would be unlikely to put Hamilton and Verstappen together because of the likelihood of tension in the team.

The same applies at Ferrari, where Sebastian Vettel is committed until the end of 2020 – the same date as Verstappen’s new Red Bull deal expires.

The move also raises questions about the future of Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Horner has recently talked about the possibility of Verstappen “building the team around him” at Red Bull and the team are giving the impression that they are very much focused on their rising star.

Ricciardo, whose contract ends next year, may feel that he has to leave and is tipped as a potential candidate for Mercedes in 2019.