Belfast Telegraph

Horner confident Verstappen will resist any bid to lure him away

 

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

By Philip Duncan

Christian Horner does not fear Max Verstappen will leave Red Bull to go up against Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season.

Verstappen enhanced his glowing reputation with a remarkable drive to victory in Austria on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Dutch star is signed up until the end of 2020, but he has a release clause which could leave Red Bull vulnerable to an approach from Mercedes.

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas is on a one-year rolling deal, with the Finnish driver's future beyond this season uncertain.

"There has been speculation about Max's contract, but it is purely speculation," said Red Bull team principal Horner. "Max is very happy within the team and he believes in this project. I have no doubts about Max.

"He has driven phenomenally well at every grand prix to date this year. He is using the experience he has gained, and his pace is beyond doubt. He has very much become the complete package.

"We want to provide him with the tools to challenge for the Championship, so that is our target over the next 12 months."

After a poor start to Sunday's race, Verstappen delivered a thrilling performance to snatch victory from Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with just two laps remaining.

Asked if Verstappen's display led Horner to think he has the best driver in F1, he replied: "I have thought that for a little while."

Hamilton took the chequered flag in fifth. The Briton, however, will head to Silverstone for his home race a week on Sunday with a 31-point Championship lead.

"This wasn't the best weekend for me, but I've learnt to notice the lessons that come from difficult days," said Hamilton.

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