Reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen has an ‘ESCAPE clause’ in his new £40m-a-year mega deal, reveals Red Bull chief Helmut Marko… but only if they experience a ‘crash’ like 2014 when they had ‘absolutely no chance’ of competing for titles
Max Verstappen has an ‘escape clause’ in his bumper Red Bull contract should the team become non-competitive in the title race in years to come, reveals Helmut Marko.
Sportsmail revealed last month that the Dutchman signed a new contract believed to be worth £40million a year to remain Red Bull’s superstar driver beyond his 30th birthday.
That extension catapults Verstappen to the front row of Formula One earners, alongside only the Mercedes rival he beat to the title so dramatically in Abu Dhabi last December, Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen does have a break clause in his Red Bull contract, chief Helmut Marko said
Marko said that the only way the clause would be active is if Red Bull were not competitive
Verstappen is the reigning champion with No 1 on his car but Marko knows that they will not be able to stand in the Dutchman’s way if there is a ‘crash’ similar to the one in 2014 when Red Bull simply had no answers to Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel, now of Aston Martin, won four straight world championships in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 before Mercedes went on to win the next seven.
If there was to be a repeat of that momentum shift in the years to come, Verstappen does have a way out, according to Marko.
‘Of course. If we experience a ‘crash’ like in 2014, when we had absolutely no chance against Mercedes on the engine side, then it’s clear there is an escape clause,’ Marko told Formel1.de.
Verstappen (right) won the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix and is full of confidence after two races
Marko added that Verstappen’s appeal is the ‘link’ that could get other manufacturers to partner with Red Bull in future seasons should he keep on winning.
‘Max is an important link in the chess game,’ Marko continued.
‘It is not surprising that manufacturers take this into account. It was therefore important for Red Bull to be able to say that we have committed the best driver to our team until 2028.
‘If you have someone like Max in the ranks, it has a positive effect on the rest of the team and the team partners.’
Verstappen is determined to land a successive championship and the early signs are that he will be locked in a battle with Ferrari and their driver Charles Leclerc.
The Red Bull champion looks to be facing a title challenge from Ferrari and Charles Leclerc
The two men has one win each so far with two races gone in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia.
Fans were thrilled at the cat-and-mouse style racing in Jeddah and Verstappen, who came out on top in the final laps, was hailed by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner for his growing maturity as the defending champion.
‘I thought it was a very mature drive by Max,’ said Horner.
‘He looked after the tyres in the race and made sure he got tyres left to him at the end of the grand prix.
‘He worked things out, there was a bit of cat and mouse going on at the DRS line but then he worked out where he needed to be and nailed the pass and just had enough to hold Charles off.’
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