Christian Horner breaks silence on Max Verstappen Red Bull ‘exit clause’

The Dutchman has been linked with a move to Mercedes and Horner has responded to reports he could follow Adrian Newey out of the exit door

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Christian Horner has dismissed speculation claiming Adrian Newey’s departure from the Formula 1 team could enable Max Verstappen to break his Red Bull contract.

Newey will leave Red Bull after 19 years of service in the second quarter of 2025, stepping back from their F1 operation to focus on the RB17 Hypercar project, and his exit has been billed as a huge blow to the Milton Keynes-based team.

Verstappen could follow him out the door despite having a contract until 2028, with Mercedes keen on snapping up the Red Bull pair to take them in a new direction.

But Horner insists only one of them will be leaving – stating Verstappen’s contract does not contain a clause tied to Newey’s future, despite reports suggesting he had a clause inserted into his £50million-a-year deal.

Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey celebrate victory after the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey celebrate victory after the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“Max’s contract is obviously always going to remain confidential but there’s not any clause in his contract that is linked to Adrian in any way, to Max,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 in Miami after the first free practice session.

“They’ve enjoyed a good relationship over the years, as with other drivers, but Max is well understanding that there’s been a planning process to this and it’s not been a knee-jerk decision. The structure will not change with Adrian stepping back.”

Horner makes Newey prediction

Responding to reports that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is preparing a £128m-a-year contract for the three-time world champion, Horner is adamant the Dutch star is “content” with his current situation.

“You [the media] report those rumblings every week but he’s still here. Max is very happy in the team, he’s got a wonderful group of engineers around him, a great car, he’s got the best car on the grid, he’s driving in the form of his life,” the Red Bull chief said.

“It’s not about contracts, it’s about being content. That’s the same for any driver and he has that dynamic around him. I think what you’re seeing from him is a driver that’s revelling in that environment.”

The same cannot be said for Newey, who has been the key figure in designing their championship winning cars from 2010 to 2013 and again for Verstappen from 2021 to 2023.

The internal uncertainty at Red Bull is thought to have convinced the 65-year-old to step away from the team and potentially join one of their rivals, with Ferrari reportedly leading the chase.

However, Horner predicted that the veteran designer won’t necessarily join the Scuderia right away: “Adrian’s had such a wonderful career, he’s been hard at it the last 30 years. He’s reached the point where the team’s in great shape, we’re performing at such a high level,” Horner added.

“He’s feels it’s the right time for him to step away, take a bit of time out. He’s still going to be working on his RB17 car that we’re designing, but he felt now is the time to take a break.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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