LONDON, United Kingdom, Sept 17 – Max Verstappen has an exit clause in his contract which allows him to leave Red Bull after the 2021 season, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
During the off-season and ahead of the 2020 campaign, Verstappen was one of two big names in Formula 1 to commit their futures to their respective teams.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc agreed a new five-year contract with the Scuderia in December 2019 and, one month later, Verstappen put pen to paper on a new three-year contract extension with Red Bull which expires at the end of 2023.
The Dutchman’s previously agreed contract had performance-related clauses written within the deal which could be triggered by Verstappen if the team’s performance was not competitive enough.
Those clauses have also carried over to the new deal, with Dr Helmut Marko revealing soon after the announcement of Verstappen’s that he could leave the team if engine supplier Honda decided to withdraw from the sport.
“In principle, this contract is fixed. With a normal course everything is arranged,” Marko told Motorsport-Magazin.
“We now have a contract with Honda until 2021. And a Formula 1 car without an engine, that will of course be a difficult story.”
But, away from Honda’s future and its link to Verstappen’s potential plans, there is another clause relating to performance again – just like there was in Verstappen’s previous deal.
“Actually Max has a permanent contract until the end of 2021”, Helmut Marko is quoted as having told German news outlet Sport1.
“We are well aware that we need to provide him with a competitive engine.”
Verstappen has hit a little rough patch of late after a run of six consecutive podium finishes was ended by back-to-back DNFs at Monza and Mugello.
The Dutchman said he was “getting sick of it” after Honda’s recent reliability problems ended his Tuscan Grand Prix on the opening lap and he has also seemingly ruled out challenging for the World title in 2021 as well with the regulations remaining relative stable.
“I hope that we will be closer to Mercedes next year but I don’t think we will beat them,” Verstappen told ORF.
“With the Coronavirus [delaying the new regs] you can’t change that much about the car. But I hope that there will be a new direction for us in 2022 with the new regulations.”
“If you are so far away and you are also too slow, that won’t happen. We still want to win every weekend. But the championship is over.”