Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has revealed that there will be an opportunity for world champion Max Verstappen to leave if the performance of the car begins to deteriorate.
Verstappen agreed a lucrative contract with the Milton Keynes side over the winter having dramatically sealed his maiden world championship with them in 2021.
He is reported to earn $250 million from the five-year extension that starts at the end of 2023.
The 24-year-old has shown patience in the four-time constructors’ champions, and they have rewarded him with their loyalty, but that does not mean the relationship will always be easy.
In 2014, Red Bull suffered a horrible season. V6 turbo-hybrids were introduced that year as the cars themselves changed massively from the previous campaign.
Mercedes nailed the new technical regulations as they won both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, claiming 16 race wins between Nico Rosberg and Sir Lewis Hamilton, with the Briton eventually coming out on top.
In contrast, Red Bull, having just won four championships on the spin through the dominance of Sebastian Vettel, slumped to second, a long way behind the Brackley squad, but their silver lining arrived in Daniel Ricciardo, who won three races.
Should Red Bull fail to delivery a competitive car during Verstappen’s time at the team, Dr Marko confirms that he may be allowed to leave should he wish to do so.
“If Red Bull experiences a kind of crash, just like in 2014, then there is, of course, an escape clause,” he told Formel1.de.
Red Bull inked sponsorship deals with ByBit and Oracle before the 2022 season got underway and, from a financial standpoint, Dr Marko acknowledged the Dutchman’s success last season as the “most important” in their history.
They are also the subject of a proposed entry by Audi and Porsche, who are rumoured to have received the greenlight from Volkswagen to enter Formula 1.
Fresh reports have tipped Audi to make an enormous bid to buy McLaren, while Porsche are interested in providing Red Bull with powertrains.
The Austrian is fully aware that a lot of the interest in Red Bull stems from Verstappen, particularly with him having signed a long-term contract extension.
“Max is an important link in the chess game. It is not surprising manufacturers take this into account,” he said.
“It was important for Red Bull to be able to say we have committed the best driver to our team until 2028.
“If you have someone like Max, it has a positive effect on the rest of the team and team partners.”
The four-time constructors’ champions will have a decision to make as to whether they go ahead with their original plan of manufacturing their own powertrains in Milton Keynes, or whether they will switch to Porsche when their deal with Honda expires at the end of 2025.
The 78-year-old has no news to share regarding their intentions at the end of the current engine freeze.
“It’s still open. It makes sense we are the most attractive partner for manufacturers,” he affirmed.
At present, it doesn’t appear that Verstappen will be needing a get-out, as Red Bull appear to have developed yet another car capable of fighting for the championship.