Max Verstappen has ended speculation about his F1 future by signing a new Red Bull deal that runs to 2023.
In the second big post-2020 driver news of the past month, Verstappen has extended his stay with the Honda-powered team by an additional three seasons – and reiterated his intention to win the world title with them.
“I want to win with Red Bull and our goal is of course to fight for a World Championship together,” said the 22-year-old Verstappen, already an eight-time race winner.
Ferrari announced an agreement with Leclerc until 2024 just before Christmas.
World champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are both out of contract as it stands at the end of this year.
Still only 22, Verstappen has now raced in over 100 grands prix across five seasons and won eight times, finishing a career-best third behind the Mercedes drivers in 2019’s drivers’ championship.
A strong finish to Red Bull’s first season with Honda engines last year has raised expectations that the team could be ready to challenge Mercedes all season-long in 2020.
“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.
“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.”
Verstappen at Red Bull: The story so far Joined 2016, Spanish GP Starts 79 Wins 8 Podiums 31 Poles 2 Championship best 3rd, 2019
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has described Verstappen’s deal as “fantastic news” for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
“With the challenge of the 2021 regulation changes on the horizon continuity in as many areas as possible is key,” said Horner. “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.”
‘New F1’ begins to fall into place
Ferrari and Red Bull’s winter moves to tie down Leclerc and Verstappen respectively mean what was expected to be a frenzied driver market for 2021 has already lost two key protagonists.
World champions Mercedes – who had been repeatedly linked with Verstappen – are now the only one of F1’s ‘Big Three without a driver yet signed up for 2021, with both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ deals expiring this December.
Hamilton has indicated he wants to extend his career and not given any indication he wants to leave Mercedes but has nonetheless said he will take time to consider his options for what could be his final contract in F1.
The Briton, who turned 35 on Tuesday, has been linked with Vettel’s seat at Ferrari, with the Scuderia themselves confirming in recent weeks that Hamilton had spoken to their chairman John Elkann during 2019.
Ferrari chief Louis Camilleri said before Christmas that it was too early to say who would partner Leclerc in 2021, with the team planning talks with Vettel to determine his future plans in the sport.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and new Renault signing Esteban Ocon are currently the only other drivers who publicly have deals in place beyond 2020.