Max Verstappen's F1 future: Red Bull confident about 2020
Team expecting Austrian GP victor to be with them next year amid performance clause speculation; Red Bull backing Pierre Gasly to turn around his fortunes
Last Updated: 05/07/19 11:00pm
Red Bull are confident Max Verstappen will still be racing for them in 2020 - and say they will do everything they can to help Pierre Gasly turn his form around.
What turned out to be a glorious race-winning weekend for Verstappen and Red Bull at the team's home race had started with both driver and team quizzed about the Dutchman's future, amid suggestions a contract which runs to the end of 2020 contains a performance clause which could be activated this year in certain conditions.
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But asked by Sky Sports F1 before the race about Verstappen's situation, Horner said: "We're very happy with him, he's happy within the team, I don't see there being any changes for next year.
"It's more about 2021, when all of them are out of contract, than for 2020.
"I heard this thing about 'he has to win a race'. That's not the case at all. There's always speculation at this time of year."
Speaking after Verstappen's win, Horner then added to reporters: "The contract between the driver and team will always stay confidential but it's safe to say that every driver in this pit lane has got clauses in their contract.
"There's been speculation about Max's contract and it's purely speculation. He's very happy within the team, he believes in this project and days like today only endorse that. I have no doubts about Max."
What did Mercedes and Ferrari say?
Any prospect of Verstappen being on the market before the end of next season would inevitably alert Red Bull's chief rivals.
But asked if Verstappen would interest them for 2020 were he available, Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto told Sky Sports F1: "No, certainly not.
"I can only confirm what Seb [Vettel] said. We have got two drivers, we have got contracts in place, we are very happy.
"Next season our line-up is fixed and there are no reasons why we should change. Things are going well in that respect."
Who is contracted until when at F1's top five?
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton - 2020||Valtteri Bottas - 2019 with '20 option|
|Ferrari||Sebastian Vettel - 2020||Charles Leclerc - undisclosed|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen - 2020||Pierre Gasly - undisclosed|
|McLaren||Carlos Sainz - 2020||Lando Norris - undisclosed|
|Renault||Daniel Ricciardo - 2020||Nico Hulkenberg - 2019|
At Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton has a deal until the end of next season, while the team have an option to continue with Valtteri Bottas for 2020 too. Esteban Ocon, the team's reserve driver, is also pushing for a return to the grid.
Toto Wolff said in Austria that his priority was on resolving the futures of the drivers already on Mercedes' books - a process he is hoping to figure out over the next few months.
"I don't know anything about it... I haven't spoken to Max and I'd like to continue like we've always done it in the past, first to evaluate our current line-up and discuss with the drivers what their views are, before really entering a discussion with anybody else," said Wolff of the Verstappen speculation.
"That is valid for every driver out there who can possibly bring something to the game at Mercedes. We have exciting junior drivers that merit to be in Formula 1, Esteban being the one that fell through the chairs last year, and putting all that puzzle into place is something which I'd like to do over the next few months, over the summer."
What about Gasly's Red Bull future?
While Verstappen has been in the best form of his five-year F1 career, amid a sequence of 18 consecutive top-five race finishes stretching back to last August, new 2019 team-mate Pierre Gasly has yet to finish higher than fifth in his first nine races for Red Bull.
The Frenchman was lapped by Verstappen in Austria but Horner has insisted the team are fully behind the 23-year-old.
"There's no intention to change Pierre," insisted Horner. "He's our driver, we're going to work with him and obviously try and get the best out of him. He's having a tough time at the moment but we'll do our best to support him through it."
The Red Bull boss added: "I think he just needs a reset. We know what he is capable of and I think that we've just somehow got to go 'control, alt delete' in his head and start again. He's a quick driver and the problem he's got is that Max is delivering every week and that puts more pressure obviously on him to perform.
"But we're sticking by him, we still believe in him, and we'll give him all the support that we can to try and nurture the talent that we know he is."
After awesome Austria, F1 2019 heads to Silverstone for the big event of the motorsport summer. Sky Sports F1 will have extensive coverage of the July 11-14 event with eight live shows featuring our expert team of pundits and presenters. Find out more here to watch all the season live.