Dutch driving sensation Max Verstappen has agreed to a deal extending his contract for another year with Red Bull Racing until the end of 2020.
Verstappen’s existing deal was to end by 2019. Last week Christian Horner said the team was keen to keep their current drivers until 2020. Mercedes and Ferrari had an eye on both the Red Bull drivers and have kept one seat open for 2019.
Daniel Ricciardo’s five-year contract ends after 2018. Industry observers will keenly watch to see if the Australian also extends his contract with the team.
Recalling his first time at Red Bull, Verstappen said: “Red Bull has always shown their faith and belief in me with actions; inviting me in to the young driver programme as a 16-year-old, then giving me my start in Formula 1 when I was just 17, and then the opportunity to race with Red Bull Racing where I had such a dream start with this team,”
“They have always backed me and my ambition and I know we share that ambition. Their support, from the guys and girls in the factory through to the crew in the garage, no matter what plays out on the race track, has always been 100 percent.
“We’ve also had some fun times! 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 was 17 when he made his grand prix debut in 2015 with Red Bull’s junior team – Toro Rosso. He moved up to the senior squad by 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, replacing Daniil Kvyat.
The same year he won the Barcelona race, creating a record for being the youngest-ever F1 Grand Prix winner.
Although the new deal is only a one-year extension, it is significant because 2019 will be big drivers market with some of the top drivers finishing their contracts and positions opening up in many teams.
While the details of the deal are not yet available, speculation is that Red Bull must have put an attractive package to hold on to the most popular driver in F1. Although he has won very few races, Verstappen has become popular due to his driving style, with some even calling him the new Ayrton Senna.
“We are delighted that Max has agreed to extend his contract with Red Bull Racing,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“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.
“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.
“Coupled with a committed work ethic and a mature approach to learning his craft that belies his years, Max is right to be hungry for success and we are looking forward to extending that journey with him in our hunt for Formula 1 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.”