In what appears to be a weekend of driver renewals, Red Bull has confirmed Max Verstappen will continue to drive for the team until 2020. The Dutchman’s current deal was set to expire at the end of 2019, meaning the deal has only extended one year.
Verstappen made his F1 debut at the tender age of 17 in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team. He would make the move to the senior team the following year, where he replaced Daniil Kvyat. Even more impressive is this was the scene for his maiden F1 victory, displacing Sebastian Vettel as the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix.
The news may come as a bit of a surprise following a frustrating opening half of the season for the driver — a season full of strong results, all undone by driver error and reliability issues. It all paid off on Verstappen’s 20th birthday as he claimed his second F1 victory at the Malaysia Grand Prix. The following weekend was a further boost to his confidence with a second place win in Japan.
“Red Bull has always shown their faith and belief in me with actions; inviting me in to the young driver programme as a 16-year-old, then giving me my start in Formula One when I was just 17 and then the opportunity to race with Red Bull Racing, where I had such a dream start with this team,” said the Dutchman. “They have always backed me and my ambition, and I know we share that ambition.”
Verstappen will continue to drive alongside teammate Daniel Ricciardo. It will be interesting to see how their relationship continues to develop from this point on. There’s no ignoring the fact that Verstappen’s raw pace and potential are at the forefront of the team’s considerations. While it’s too late for the tides to shift this season, 2018 is as ripe a time as any.