Published Jan 07, 2020
Jan 07, 2020 IST
Max Verstappen has committed his Formula One future to Red Bull, taking him off the driver market.
The 2021 season is when new technical regulations come into the sport but the Dutchman has joined Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in staying with his current team beyond that date.
Verstappen had previously been linked with a switch to Mercedes, with the long-term futures of a host of top F1 names like Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel still unclear.
Here, we look at why Verstappen, who has been with Red Bull for four seasons, has opted to stay at with the team for another four until 2023.
Progress of Honda
Gone are the days when the Honda engine was the laughing stock of the grid and Mercedes’ power unit was dominant.
Ferrari were on top in that department last year and, at many tracks, Honda had made huge strides and were right there with them, with Verstappen’s win in Austria being the manufacturer’s first since 2006.
With their issues supplying McLaren now a distant memory, Verstappen clearly has faith Honda will continue their progress, which could be a decisive factor for the next championship and beyond once the new regulations arrive.
“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,” Verstappen said when his new deal was announced on Tuesday.
His results are better every year
After joining Red Bull while the 2016 season was ongoing, Verstappen has made clear progress across his three complete campaigns with the team.
His first full year saw him finish sixth in the drivers’ championship, registering four podiums and two victories.
More consistency followed in 2017 as he racked up 11 top-three finishes along with two wins en route to a fourth-place finish.
Last year, only the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Bottas finished ahead of the 22-year-old as he won a career-best three races, as well as recording his first two pole positions.
Very proud and happy that @redbullracing will stay my home until 2023. We started this journey together and they have supported me from day 1. I want to win with @redbull and @HondaRacingF1 , our goal is to fight for a World Championship together. The best is yet to come! #YesBoys pic.twitter.com/gal9QVTEFO
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) January 7, 2020
Undisputed number one
While the struggles of Pierre Gasly early in the 2019 season occasionally left Verstappen outnumbered and at a tactical disadvantage in races, there are also benefits to being an undisputed number one.
Leclerc and Vettel have disagreed over strategy and even took each other out in Brazil, while Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s relationship at Mercedes was problematic.
Verstappen may have an able team-mate in Alex Albon going forward but at least for now he is the more experienced and established driver.
It does not look like he will be having any internal squabbles and, if he is in the 2020 title race against other teams, can be given strategic priority by Red Bull while their rivals are trying to appear fair.
Red Bull have done the job before
Mercedes have been the top team in F1 during the hybrid era, but Red Bull and their management team have proven they have the structure to deliver success.
Team principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey are long-serving figureheads who helped Vettel to four consecutive world titles between 2010 and 2013.
With Honda improving and the Red Bull chassis always one of the best, Verstappen must have faith that the team he has worked so closely with can take him to the next level, as they did with Vettel.
“Red Bull believed in me and gave me the opportunity to start in Formula One, which I have always been very grateful for,” added Verstappen.
“I want to win with Red Bull and our goal is of course to fight for a world championship together.”
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