Pundits: Verstappen could still leave Red Bull despite new deal

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Two ex-Formula 1 drivers turned pundits believe Max Verstappen could still leave Red Bull despite his new three-year deal.

The announcement of his contract extension on Tuesday caught many by surprise, with the feeling being the Dutchman would wait to evaluate Red Bull's performance in 2020 before putting pen to paper.

Team advisor Helmut Marko would later explain the early push came in an effort to ward off interest from rivals, particularly Mercedes, with Martin Brundle believing Verstappen's departure could have had big repercussions for the company's future in F1.

“Red Bull had to be super nervous of keeping Max, that was critical,” he told Sky Sports.

“You had to be concerned that if Max joined Mercedes or Ferrari that Dietrich Mateschitz, the team’s owner, might have looked at the whole thing and thought ‘what’s the point’ if he’s bringing talent on like that only for him to jump ship."

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Indeed, with no driver coming close to Verstappen in the current Red Bull stable, former Ferrari driver Mika Salo thinks they had to offer the 22-year-old exactly what he wanted.  

“They need Max,” PlanetF1 quoted him as telling Finnish media. “Red Bull has been able to guarantee Verstappen good money and a good car.

“I think the situation is satisfactory to Max. Now he can concentrate on the season.”

But while he might now be officially under contract with the Anglo-Austrian outfit until 2023...

“It really doesn’t change anything,” Salo added. “It was quite expected that Max would stay there. Everything else is still open and pretty much everyone else’s contract is ending."

And Brundle believes his new deal will come with conditions.

“We also know, of course, that there are often some exit windows on both sides as well through that process," said the long-time commentator.

“That proviso has to be in place. Performance clauses are always very hard to write, but you might also seek key-personnel assurances.

“For example, if I was re-signing for Red Bull, I might want to know is Christian Horner going to be around? Is Adrian Newey around? Who else is around?

“They have put together a package, financial and technical, and it has convinced Max and his gang to settle in for another four years.”

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