Horner: Verstappen’s future plan

How long will the fire burn for the F1 world champion? Horner talks about what he knows of Verstappen’s future in F1 saying he’s here to stay, for now. For many, the two-time champion is set to become one of the greatest racing drivers of all time, contrary to the opinion of a former F1 driver, turned pundit, who says Max Verstappen’s success has more to do with the formidable cars than his sheer talent, hinting he will leave F1 as soon as that changes. Meanwhile, Red Bull admits the Dutchman has an ‘escape clause’ to end his contract early.

Max Verstappen continues to dominate Formula 1 in the still-young 2023 season, once again leading the drivers’ world championship after three of 23 races. 

With back-to-back world championships under his belt with Red Bull, Max Verstappen is in the prime of his career.

With three races under his belt, Verstappen seems set for a treble, having taken P1 in Bahrain and Australia, and P2 in Saudi Arabia.

With his team-mate’s reliability problems in Australia, Verstappen has taken a clear lead in the Constructors’ Championship, 15 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez and 24 points clear of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.



Verstappen success questioned

But the Dutchman’s success has more to do with Red Bull’s impressive design than his skill at the wheel, according to former F1 driver Johnny Herbert.

Herbert says with Lando Norris or George Russell in the same car as Verstappen, the Dutchman wouldn’t be enjoying the current run of success.

“George has been able to challenge him [Lewis Hamilton] and put him under a lot of pressure,” Herbert said.

“George is going to be tough for Max Verstappen when he gets the right car. I think Lando Norris is the same given the right car.”


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Norris might become Verstappen’s team mate?

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko had approached Norris about joining Red Bull’s sister team, then Toro Rosso, in 2018, in the hope that he could move up if an opening came up. Insiders say that Norris is openly willing to move over to Red Bull as Verstappens’ team mate if Sergio Perez were to vacate his seat.

Should that happen, could we see Verstappen properly challenged?

Certainly, for Verstappen’s doubters, a competitive team mate coupled with a less competitive future car might see the Dutchman leave the sport early.



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Verstappen’s current contract in F1

If money was Verstappen’s current primary motivator for remaining with Red Bull and Formula 1, he certainly isn’t short of a ‘Buck or two’.

According to the Daily Mail and De Telegraaf (ESPN), Verstappen’s new deal has an annual value of £40m, roughly equivalent to $53.3m.

The 24-year-old is now tied to Red Bull Racing until 2028, having been set to become a free agent after the 2023 season.

Verstappen is now believed to be the second highest paid driver in F1, with his deal mirroring the reported $53.3 million a year earned by Lewis Hamilton.


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Verstappen ‘escape clause’ revealed

Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull contract contains a buy-out clause, longstanding team consultant Helmut Marko has revealed.

However, Marko, who is overseeing the programme that brought Verstappen through the ranks, made it clear that there is a mechanism in the contract that could see Verstappen leave the long-term contract should Red Bull perform less well.

Marko said to Formel1.de: “Of course. If we experience a ‘crash’ like in 2014, when we had absolutely no chance against Mercedes on the engine side, then it’s clear there is an escape clause.”

With the details of what the clause might actually be hidden, it isn’t certain what conditions might release Max from Red Bull, but one could imagine an uncompetitive car being a big part of the Dutchman quitting.

But for now, he is happy winning in a fast car with little challenge from his current team mate.


Max Verstappen says he’s happy with the team

“I feel really well in the team and I think that is already very important,” Verstappen explained in an interview with the Independent.

“And I always felt loyalty because of the opportunity they gave me in Formula 1. And then we had always the same goal.”

The Dutchman concludes that he “always believed in the project” that culminated with his title triumph.



Horner reveals Verstappen’s future plan

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has now spoken about Verstappen’s possible plans for the future.

“Max is his own man and very, very strong in his opinion and attitude about what he wants to do in his life,” the British man said in an interview with Sky Sports.


As the youngest Formula 1 debutant of all time, the Dutchman has already contested more than 160 races in Formula 1 and has taken 37 victories. Verstappen has won two world championship titles to date, in 2021 and 2022, and has long since set his sights on a hat-trick this year.

Despite all the current enthusiasm for Formula 1, team boss Horner does not believe that Verstappen will want to stay in the racing series as long as Fernando Alonso, for example, who turns 42 this July.

Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso had already declared his F1 career over after the 2018 season, before making a spectacular return to Alpine in 2021, and has been driving successfully for Aston Martin since this year.



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Horner: “I do see him racing in his 40’s”

“I don’t see him still racing like a Fernando Alonso at 41 or 42. Maybe somewhere else than Formula 1 – his love and passion is racing,” said Horner, who also won the Constructors’ World Championship with Red Bull last year for the first time since 2013.


Horner knows it wouldn’t take much for Verstappen to pull the plug should the situation change at Red Bull, previously fully acknowledging the Dutchman has other interests outside of the sport.

But for now “His passion is just racing,” says Horner.

“As long as that burns in him, he will continue. But how long it burns, that’s different for each individual. Everyone has to find that out for themselves.”

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One response to “Horner: Verstappen’s future plan

  1. Of course, Johnny Herbert would make such a biased comment……the same applies to Lewis winning so many world championships on an unbeatable Merc…. Wake up Johnny!

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