Max Verstappen outlines why he won’t leave Red Bull before 2028… and why he might

The Dutchman has been strongly linked with a move away Red Bull due to inter-team conflicts

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When the curtains came to a close on the 2023 Formula 1 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the last thing on people’s minds over the winter break would have been whether Max Verstappen would leave Red Bull, but will the Dutchman actually do it? He appears to rule out a switch before 2028 but leaves the door open to jumping ship too.

The rumors sprung to life in March because of drama within the Milton Keynes camp connected to the trio of Christian Horner, Jos Verstappen and Helmut Marko who all appear to be locked in a power struggle. As a result, the world champion was heavily linked with a move to Mercedes as Toto Wolff began courting him.

It’s unclear whether that was a serious conversation or whether it was a political message to the Red Bull GmbH board and Horner of what the risks of failing to tread the situation concerning those Verstappen is loyal to lightly, but now he has reaffirmed his commitment to his “one family” although only to an extent…

“It doesn’t have any impact on me of what I would do or whatever,” Verstappen said of Wolff flattering the driver in the media. “But I mean, it’s always nice to hear that.

“Of course, Toto and I we had our little moments, but that’s normal between two teams and it’s all battling I guess for championships, but the respect has always been there, but from my side, it doesn’t change anything.”

Verstappen added: “With the [Red Bull] deal in place, that is my intention to be here until the end [2028] because it would be a great story for me personally to just see it out to the end, because it almost basically means that I’ve been part of one family and one team.”

Max Verstappen and Jos Verstappen ahead of 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Jos Verstappen ahead of 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Why Verstappen might quit Red Bull

Verstappen joined Red Bull’s program in 2014 after a strong performance on his single-seater debut in European Formula 3. Ironically, Wolff missed the chance to sign him back then as he elected for Esteban Ocon, whilst Red Bulll offered Verstappen a Toro Rosso (now RB) seat for 2015.

Then in 2016 he was promoted to Red Bull, and the rest is history as he’s gone on to win at least once in every season since the end of 2015 which has now culminated in winning 19 races throughout the 2023 campaign as he shatters records.

But despite the success, and despite feeling like the place is his family and reaffirming that to journalists at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, he has still left a very clear warning that Red Bull can easily lose him with one signature along a dotted line elsewhere…

“I’m happy within the team,” Verstappen added to press. “It’s very important that we try to keep the key players in the team for a longer period of time, because that’s where the performance is as well.

“And at the end of the day, it’s a performance business. It’s the same as if I wouldn’t perform I wouldn’t be sitting here so I know how that works.

“It’s a lot of people contributing to the success of the team the start and that needs to be respected, but I think that’s in general always the successful teams when you have a good core group of people, it’s important to keep them all together and happy.”

Christian Horner, Adrian Newey and Helmut Marko at the 2023 Saudi Arabain GP | Lars Baron/Getty Images
Christian Horner, Adrian Newey and Helmut Marko at the 2023 Saudi Arabain GP | Lars Baron/Getty Images

That could potentially relate to rumors of Marko being suspended, fired or quitting but it could also be connected to Adrian Newey, who has been heavily linked to Ferrari. Newey has reportedly fallen out with Horner too, as the team principal appears to be fighting everyone within the team these days and could swap Milton Keynes for Maranello.

If the genius designer switching to a direct competitor would be something that surely wouldn’t do down well with Verstappen, who is on record for saying he never wants to experience a season like 2021 again.

Verstappen has tried to stay away from the Horner scandal, related to misconduct, where possible but he sort of addressed it without officially doing so ahead of the weekend although he appears slightly irritated as it overshadows his incredible F1 form as he’s on a nine-race winning run.

“I’ve always felt comfortable [in Red Bull] because for me, it’s like a second family,” Verstappen continued to press. “In a family, there might sometimes be… I would just say not disagreements, but… As you know, in families, you know, you can’t choose family. You can choose friends.

“But honestly, for me, it’s been the same and we just focus on the performance. Like I said before, of course, I would like the chat to be a little bit more about the great car that we have but hopefully that will come soon.”

Verstappen‘s final warning was loud as he said, “I don’t know what happens after 2028 [the expiry of his contract]. I don’t know if I’m going to stay in F1 or if I’m going to continue to sign a new deal. I don’t know that.”

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