On 7th January 2020, Red Bull and Max Verstappen renewed their partnership for the next few years until the 2023 season. Verstappen becomes the second driver to have a long-term contract after Charles Leclerc penned a new deal with Ferrari. However, according to Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko, the team took a preemptive strike by signing the Dutchman again.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, Marko admitted, “It was difficult for us to estimate what was the story between Ferrari and Hamilton. But it is also clear that Mercedes must act if Hamilton goes to Ferrari in 2021. Max would have been the first driver they would aim for.”
The Austrian was referring to the numerous rumours surrounding Lewis Hamilton and a potential move to Ferrari in the future. Marko believes that if that move ever materialised, Mercedes would have pounced on the next big star, that is Max Verstappen.
Currently, Red Bull are concerned about securing their future and are glad that Max Verstappen will be there to see it through. It was also worth mentioning that Lewis Hamilton is also out of contract at the end of 2020 and Mercedes will be eager to re-sign him.
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Whatever the case, with the start of the 2020 season quickly approaching, there is a mad scramble to sign drivers and extend contracts for the near future.
One key aspect of Red Bull’s development in 2019, was their new relationship with Honda. According to Marko, Verstappen is aware of the progress the Japanese engine manufacturer is making ahead of 2020, which probably influenced his decision to put pen to paper too.
“Max is a priority for Honda,” he added.
“They love his aggressive driving style and his open nature. If the others teams want to be better, they’ll have to make dramatic gains.
“Max knows what is going on at Honda. He has already seen the new car and he appreciates the continuity in the team.”
Marko’s comments come after rumours linking Hamilton with a move to Ferrari after his current contract with Mercedes expires.