Red Bull principal Christian Horner is “100%” confident that Max Verstappen will stay with the team who will announce their 2021 line-up “before Christmas”.
However, the Silver Arrows have found a new level of dominance this year, while back-to-back DNFs at Monza and Mugello have ended Verstappen’s chances of claiming a first title in Formula 1 for another year.
Head of the Red Bull driver programme Helmut Marko has confirmed that Verstappen does have a permanent contract with the team until 2021 amidst talk of a performance-related exit clause in his contract, and there has been some speculation that the Dutchman could use it this year after another campaign where Red Bull have failed to give him the tools to compete with Lewis Hamilton over a season.
But while Horner was never going to reveal the details of Verstappen’s contract, he does have “100%” confidence that the Dutchman will still be a Red Bull driver in 2021.
“Obviously the contract between the driver and the team is always going to be confidential and there will always be speculation regarding it,” Horner told reporters ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, as quoted by Racefans.net.
On the other side of the garage is Alex Albon who had been coming under fire for his performances this season, that was until the Tuscan Grand Prix where he scored his first podium in Formula 1 with P3.
And Horner took a swipe at the media, saying Albon only felt under pressure because of them.
“He only feels vulnerable because you guys keep telling him every week we should put somebody else in the car,” he said.
“It was really good for him to get that result. He came close in Brazil last year, he could have won the race at the opening race in Austria and obviously got turned out of that race.
“To get that first podium he had to do it the hard way. Daniel’s one of the hardest racers on the track and to pass him around the outside of turn one as he did I think was a great performance from him.
“I think the confidence it will give him, hopefully he will build on that.
“He has got the full support of all the team. I think the team’s doing a good job with him, I think his race engineer is extracting more from him and I think that confidence is growing.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 25, 2020
It’s Red Bull’s intention to keep both Verstappen and Albon for 2021, though Horner said an official confirmation will come “before Christmas”.
“All the drivers are under contract to Red Bull on multiple years. There are trigger points at different times in their contract, but it’ll certainly be later into the autumn,” he added.
“Our intention is to retain Alex. He’s doing a good job. He just needs to build on the kind of performances he put in at Mugello and continue that development.”