Senior Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has said he believes the Milton Keynes-based team have a good chance of retaining Max Verstappen over the coming years.
The Dutch ace has a so-called “performance clause” in his contract which could allow him to walk away from Red Bull at the end of the season despite his existing deal running until the end of 2023.
However, Dr Marko has said he is “very optimistic” about Red Bull’s ability to retain Verstappen as Mercedes’ dominance of Formula One has seemingly come to an end.
“There is no longer this superiority that has made the dominance of Mercedes possible in recent years, since the introduction of the hybrid engine,” Dr Marko said.
“I’m very optimistic for 2022,” the Austrian added.
Honda made a big step forward over the winter and appear to have the strongest power unit on the grid this campaign.
Although the Japanese auto-maker will exit Formula One at the end of 2021, Red Bull will continue to use their power units, albeit under a different name, due to a deal agreed earlier this year.
Furthermore, with F1 agreeing an engine freeze until 2025, the competitiveness of the Honda power unit could be locked in for a while, giving Verstappen a strong incentive to stay at Red Bull.
However, not everyone is convinced that the Dutch star will stay put; last month, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said he believes Verstappen and George Russell will both be driving for Mercedes in 2022.
“I think you will see Max [Verstappen] and George [Russell] there in 2022,” Brown said a few days ahead of the 2021 season getting underway in Bahrain.
“You have Max’s experience and youth, you have George’s youth. If I am Mercedes that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years,” he added.