Verstappen to stay at Red Bull in 2018 but after that...

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Max Verstappen will be a Red Bull driver in 2018,  according to his father Jos, as speculation swirls over his longer-term future.

That confirmation comes amid a difficult year for the 19-year-old having failed to finish at the last three races and an overall total of five in the last seven. As a result, Verstappen dropped behind Sergio Perez to seventh in the Drivers' Championship after Austria, compare that to his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently on a roll of five consecutive podiums and sits fourth in the Drivers' standings.

That, as well as concerns over Red Bull's overall competitiveness, has led to rumours over his future, but the team has always claimed his contract is watertight and has been accepted by the Dutchman.

"We will stay with the team next year for sure," former F1 Jos told Sky Sports.

With next year settled then, that has led to attention shifting to 2019 with reports claiming Ferrari is being eyed up should Red Bull continue to be uncompetitive.

"Total rubbish, propaganda," team principal Christian Horner said of those claims in Austria. “No he has a contract with the team for '19. After '19 he is on the open market.”

The Briton is also confident that the Verstappen's will look beyond the current poor run of results and acknowledge that the Milton Keynes-based outfit is gradually returning to competitiveness at least from a pace perspective.

"Despite his age he has actually got quite a bit of experience and he has had similar issues in his karting career and so on,” he claimed.

“What he has actually taken is a lot of heart from the car getting stronger and stronger and today was arguably our most competitive race this season, certainly since Monaco and particularly on this layout type of circuit.

"So you can see all race, sector two, the twisty bit, we were the fastest car compared to Mercedes and Ferrari there. He can see that progress coming.”

In fact, Horner would make a bold prediction based on the speed Verstappen has shown when his car has been working.

“When it does come his way, as so often the case in sport, he could end up winning three races on the trot by not necessarily changing anything that he is doing. It will just turn for him," he said.