Max Verstappen’s future remains “open” and contract negotiations are likely to only get underway next year, but Christian Horner is “confident and hopeful” that the Dutchman will stay at Red Bull.
The 22-year-old’s current contract runs out at the end of next year and he has admitted he is not ready to commit his future to the Milton Keynes squad just yet with Mercedes reportedly lurking.
“I’m not too worried. First of all, I want to take a closer look at everything that has been promised and what actually gets delivered,” he recently told Auto Motor und Sport.
His father, Jos, has also stated that the 2020 season may well be another “lost year” for his son if Red Bull fail to up their game.
Horner, though, has downplayed Jos’ comments and believes the younger Verstappen is committed to the team.
“Max is a very different person to his father. He sees the bigger picture,” he told Motorsport.com.
“He was in Sakura [before the Japanese GP] and he has seen what is coming, and the commitment of Honda to the development of the engine, and to F1.
“In the factory he sees what is going on, so I think racing dads unfortunately can sometimes get a bit excited.”
Max has made no secret of the fact that he wants to win the Drivers’ title and Horner says if Red Bull give him a car capable of challenging regularly at the front, then he will no doubt stay.
“It is very much within our control,” he said. “He is very happy with the team environment. He wants to realise his ambitions here and it is down to us to provide him with a platform with which to do that. I am confident and hopeful that we can.”
However, there could be a lot of musical chairs in 2021 as several of the big names will be free agents and teams are likely to have to wait until the middle of next year before negotiations can get underway.
“It will have to be. Max, Lewis [Hamilton] and Sebastian [Vettel] are all out of contract at the end of 2020, so three of the four big players are in the open market,” Horner said.
“Inevitably all of them will wait to see the relative performance of their individual teams during the course of next year, and I would say the first half of next year.”