Christian Horner felt it was important to nail Max Verstappen down to a contract extension to end the rumours and the distractions surrounding the highly rated Dutchman.
Verstappen has signed on until the end of the 2020 season, and Horner, Red Bull Racing’s Team Principal, said that all parties eager to extend their partnership, which was originally set to run until the end of 2019.
“In order to get rid of distractions and speculation it was better to address it,” said Horner to Autosport. “The team wanted to retain him; Max wanted to stay with the team, so it was a pretty simple extension at the end of the day – and just takes out any ambiguity.
“The team know where we’re at, Max knows where he’s at, and we can just focus on building the best car we can.”
Despite a season blighted with unreliability – Verstappen has retired in seven of the sixteen races of the season so far – Horner says the twenty-year-old has seen just what the team are capable of, particularly with his victory in the recent Malaysian Grand Prix.
“I think he’s seen the depth and strength of the team this year, and how we’ve developed the car,” added Horner. “He believes in what the team’s doing and he feels very comfortable in the team. Likewise [us] with him.”
Horner says the team’s priority now is to ensure the other half of the driver line-up also remains with the team in the long run, with talks set to take place with Daniel Ricciardo about extending his contract.
“The priority now is to make sure we retain Daniel as well,” insists Horner.