Red Bull have announced that Max Verstappen has extended his contract with the team until the end of the 2023 Formula One season.
The decision comes after a successful 2019 season saw Verstappen finish third in the drivers’ Championship behind Valtteri Bottas and reigning champion – Lewis Hamilton who both drive for Mercedes.
Speaking on his decision to remain with Red Bull given their successful relationship over the last four seasons, Verstappen said; ” I am really happy to have extended my partnership with the Team. Red Bull believed in me and gave me the opportunity to start in Formula 1 which I have always been very grateful for.
“Over the years I have grown closer and closer with the Team and besides the passion from everyone and the on-track performance it is also really enjoyable to work with such a great group of people.”
Verstappen also paid tribute to Honda and the progress made in the past 12 months, saying; ” Honda coming onboard and the progress we have made over the last 12 months gives me even more motivation and the belief that we can win together.
“I respect the way Red Bull and Honda work together and from all sides everyone is doing what they can to succeed.
“I want to win with Red Bull and our goal is of course to fight for a World Championship together.”
Team Principal, Christian Horner hailed the news as ‘fantastic’ ahead of the 2021 regulation changes, saying; “It is fantastic news for the Team to have extended our agreement with Max up-to and including the 2023 season. “
Horner has also paid tribute to Verstappen, saying; “… Max has proven what an asset he is to the Team, he truly believes in the partnership we have forged with our engine supplier Honda, and we are delighted to have extended our relationship with him.”
What does Verstappen’s Decision Mean For Mercedes?
Verstappen in recent months had been linked with a move to Mercedes for 2021, but this announcement creates a new world of speculation over who could be racing for the Silver Arrows next season.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are out of contract at the end of this season, which could mean all change at Brackley next season if both decide to move on to pastures new and don’t renew their contracts.
George Russell therefore is a likely candidate to graduate up to Mercedes if he enjoys another dominant season at Williams, although he has tougher competition from Nicholas Latifi this time round.
Charles Leclerc has committed his future to Ferrari until at least the end of the 2024 season, whereas Sebastian Vettel is thought to be set to depart the Scuderia and possibly F1 altogether at end of 2020.
Vettel therefore could well be a realistic target if Mercedes want a German driver in their car, in an attempt to revive interest of F1 fans in Germany.
Either way, Mercedes need to move quickly if want to retain at least one of Hamilton or Bottas, otherwise they could be facing tough driver decisions later this year with promoting a top performing F2 driver a potential possibility if necessary.