Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner believes that Red Bull’s relationship with Dutchman Max Verstappen is far more important than a performance clause in keeping him away from Mercedes.
This statement came after the team’s advisor, Dr Helmut Marko confirmed that there is a performance clause in Max’s contract, according to which, he can walk away free at the end of the 2021 season, given that the team is unable to provide a car to challenge for the World Championship, which is currently dominated by Lewis Hamilton and his Silver Arrow.
Christian Horner did confirm that this clause exists, but, he does not expect this to come into play due to the strong relationship between the Dutch driver and the team. He did add however that Mercedes would be interested to pick Max up, given that Lewis Hamilton parts ways, since he and his team-mate Valterri Bottas are currently under contract for this season.
What Does Horner Have To Say About Max and Mercedes?
“I’m sure that should Lewis decide to stop then Max will naturally be the driver at the top of Mercedes’ list,” said Horner, quoted by PA Media. “They also have George Russell and other drivers available to them.
“The reality is that yes, of course – as there has always been – an element of performance-related clauses to Max’s contract. But as with all these things, it’s not about forcing a driver that doesn’t want to be there.
“It’s more about relationships than contracts and you only pull a contract out of the drawer when you have a problem, in my experience.“The relationship with Max is very strong, he believes in the project, in what we are doing, and he sees the investment Red Bull are making.
“I’m confident we won’t need to refer to any contractual clauses. It will be down to us to deliver a competitive car.”
This statement came after Red Bull announced that they would be taking over Honda’s engine operations up till 2025, post the Japanese company’s exit at the end of this season, leading to the formation of a new entity at Milton Keynes.
Furthermore, Christian believes that the Abu Dhabi performance by Max was a testament to how Red Bull can challenge Mercedes far more regularly this year, despite saying that Red Bull had turned their engine downs for the season-ender.
“We demonstrated at Abu Dhabi that Mercedes are beatable on a track they had been unbeaten at for the past six or seven years,” said Horner.
“We just need to be able to do that across the season. We are gathering momentum. Nobody has a crystal ball so we just need to do the best job we can.”