Marko suggests Verstappen escape clause in Red Bull deal after 2021

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has suggested Max Verstappen could have a way out of his new contract after 2021.

The Dutchman was expected to be a major player in the driver market this year with speculation he could move to Mercedes if the Milton Keynes-based outfit didn't deliver.

It was with some surprise then that Verstappen and Red Bull announced a new three-year deal until the end of 2023 last month but it appears whether or not he sees that out could depend on one factor.

"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 but a Formula 1 car without an engine, that will of course be a difficult story," the Austrian added.

"So it's clear that we need a competitive engine [to keep Verstappen]."

The apparent insertion of an escape clause for Verstappen should Honda leave F1 isn't surprising given the relationship they have built up over their first year together in 2019.

It's also likely that Red Bull too would consider the future of their two teams if the Japanese manufacturer pulled out given the lack of alternative suppliers.

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As it is, such scenarios are not yet anywhere near Marko's mind as he is confident 2020 can be the year the Anglo-Austrian team takes the fight to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

"We are especially happy, this [Verstappen's contract] gives us stability and gives the entire team an incredible amount of motivation," he said.

"It is our big goal for Max, who also started with us in Formula 1, to become the youngest ever F1 world champion."