Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull contract has cost the team a pretty penny but Helmut Marko says he wasn’t up to “playing poker” with the star driver.
Earlier this month Red Bull announced that Verstappen had signed a new deal that would keep him at Milton Keynes until the end of 2023.
The announcement came as a surprise to many as rumours suggested Mercedes were lining up Verstappen.
According to the rumour mill, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff wanted Verstappen should Lewis Hamilton decide to swap to Ferrari next season.
However with that playing out in the background, Red Bull were willing to pay top dollar for Verstappen.
“The new contract was not cheap,” the team’s advisor Marko told Auto Bild. “But I didn’t feel like playing poker.
“I spent the holidays trying to fix the contract.
“I was very worried about losing Max to Mercedes in 2021.”
Verstappen’s extension is believed to be worth 60 million Euros come the end of three years, still a long way off of the 55m Euros Hamilton is reportedly wanting for a new Mercedes deal.
However, it wasn’t just about the money for Verstappen.
Marko revealed the Dutchman was also keen to know the team’s engine plans.
At present Red Bull have Honda on board but that deal concludes at the end of next season.
“We currently have Honda,” Marko said. “I am also optimistic that they will continue.”