Max Verstappen does not have a clause in his Red Bull contract allowing him to terminate the deal early due to Honda’s departure, says team boss Christian Horner.
While Verstappen is contracted to the four-time Formula 1 champions until 2023, comments made by Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to Autobild earlier in 2020 indicated the Dutchman could call it quits early if the team was unable to provide him a “competitive engine”.
However Horner, who Marko said last week is kept out of “strategic matters”, has moved to kill talk of such an escape clause, while maintaining Honda will hold up their end of the bargain until departing at the end of 2021.
“There is no such clause in his contract,” he told ServusTV. “The contracts between the driver and the team are private, but there is definitely no engine-related clause in Max’s contract.
“He is competitive. He feels very comfortable in the team and believes strongly in the Honda program. I think he also sees that Honda has brought forward the engine from 2022 to 2021. That is encouraging, of course.
“So we will take another step forward next year. He’s excited about this, and he still has a long way to go until 2022.”
Obviously before that season arrives, Red Bull will need to find a new supplier with the most likely choice being Renault, whom Horner conceded had made significant improvement since last supplying his team in 2018.
“Of course I understand why people assume that we will talk to Renault. Since the separation, Renault has changed.
“The new board brings a lot of fresh wind and some changes. Things are moving forward.”
And while all other possibilities are being explored before Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz makes the final call, Horner suggested it is unlikely his team decides to keep developing the Honda engine by itself, nor bring a new supplier into the sport.
“The cost of getting a new manufacturer on board under the current regulations is simply far too high. So there will be no new manufacturer until a new engine – possibly 2026 – comes on the market.
“The costs for development are enormously high. The FIA and Liberty have to get a grip on this. They have done a good job on the chassis. Now we need homologated engines and we also need budget caps for the power units.”