Christian Horner quizzed on Max Verstappen’s ‘key man exit clause’ after Adrian Newey announcement

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen hand to head next to Christian Horner

Max Verstappen, hand to head

Christian Horner has quashed suggestions Max Verstappen has a “key man exit clause” in his Red Bull deal that will allow him to follow Adrian Newey out of the door.

Newey surprised many when it was announced on Wednesday that this year would be his 19th and last full season with Red Bull, the design guru leaving the team in the first quarter of 2025.

‘It’s not about contracts, it’s about being content…’

Newey, who has stepped back from the team’s Formula 1 operations to instead focus on the RB17 hypercar as he counts down his days in Milton Keynes, leaves the team with 12 championship titles credited to cars he has designed, possibly 14.

Three of those, potentially four given the Dutchman is romping towards a fourth successive Drivers’ Championship title, have come with Verstappen behind the wheel.

But could it be four and out?

Formula 1’s rumour mill continues to link the 26-year-old to Mercedes, either for the 2025 season or ’26 when the new car and engine regulations come into effect.

Asked about the ‘rumblings’ about his driver’s future, Horner told Sky Sports: “Well, you report those rumblings every week but he’s still here.

“Look, Max is very happy in the team. He’s got a wonderful group of engineers around him, he’s got a great car, he’s in the best car on the grid, he’s driving in the form of his life.

“It’s not about contracts, it’s about being content and I think that’s the same for any driver and he has that.

“He has that dynamic around him and I think that what you’re seeing with him is a driver that’s revelling in that environment.”

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Horner’s comments come off the back of Verstappen making it clear he won’t be swayed by a big-bucks offer, not if he’s “driving for P5 or P6”.

As for a suggestion the Dutchman could have a ‘key man exit clause’ in his contract that would allow him to follow Newey out of the door, Horner said: “No.

“Max’s contract is obviously always going to remain confidential but there’s no clauses with Adrian that link Adrian in any way to Max.

“They’ve enjoyed a good relationship over the years, as have our obviously previous drivers.

“But Max as well understands that there’s been a planning process to this and it’s not just a knee-jerk and so the structure will not change with Adrian stepping back.”

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