After seeing Max Verstappen’s thrilling Austrian Grand Prix win Red Bull boss Christian Horner dismissed suggestions of the Dutchman having his heart set on a move to a rival team.
Last year, Verstappen extended his contract to the 2020 season, but ahead of the race in Spielberg reports in German media suggested the company’s racing advisor Helmut Marko was worried about Verstappen being able to leave due to certain clauses in that deal. Sebastian Vettel was able to leave Red Bull for Ferrari in 2015 by triggering clauses in that deal.
That very issue was put to Verstappen during the Thursday press conference ahead of the race weekend. When the Dutchman was asked if he could reveal details of the clause, he laughed and said: “What do you think, my friend?”
On Sunday, Verstappen demonstrated the true value he holds in F1 currently, charging through the field to claim a second straight win at the Red Bull Ring. He capped it off with a wheel-banging move on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc which was eventually deemed to have been a racing incident in a lengthy stewards review.
In his media session after that verdict was handed out, Horner was pressed on whether he thinks Verstappen is the best driver in F1 currently, to which he replied: “I have thought that for a little while.”
On the topic of Verstappen’s future, Horner said there is no reason why the Dutchman would want to leave any time soon.
“The contract between the driver and team will always be confidential, but it’s safe to say that every single driver in this pit lane has got probably clauses in their contract. There has been speculation about Max’s contract, it’s purely speculation.
“He’s very happy in the team, he believes in this project and days like today only endorse that. I have no doubts about Max.”
The win was Honda’s first since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. The Japanese manufacturer has endured a difficult time since returning as an engine supplier in 2015, with three fruitless years as McLaren’s partner leading to a premature end to the relationship.
After spending 2018 supplying just Toro Rosso, Honda added Red Bull to its supply network for this season. Verstappen helped it claim its first F1 podium since its comeback earlier this year and he was quick to credit the company for the role it played in Sunday’s win.
Speaking directly afterwards, Verstappen said: “This is very important for us and also for the future, for Honda as well. I’m just very happy that it happened today and it just gives us a lot of confidence as well to the boys and maybe a few doubts are going away because of it.”