Verstappen-Red Bull relationship ‘worth more than any piece of paper’ – Horner

Max Verstappen claimed a dramatic maiden world championship at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has spoken of his desire to keep new world champion Max Verstappen at the team for an extended period.

Verstappen claimed 10 wins on his way to sealing a dramatic maiden championship by passing Mercedes’ Sir Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand prix last season with the team he has been with since 2016.

Even before his Red Bull debut just under six years ago, their junior programme had helped his career advance leaps and bounds, and he made his first championship session appearance at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix when he filled in for Jean Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso – now known as AlphaTauri – in FP1.

He was then brought into the junior Toro Rosso team for the 2015 season, and would replace Daniil Kvyat in the main fold after just four rounds of the 2016 season.

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The Dutchman took a sensational victory on his Red Bull debut at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, beating Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to the line in a race that saw the two Mercedes drivers – Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – take each other out on the opening lap.

Max Verstappen celebrates his F1 title in Abu Dhabi 2021.v1

He has claimed 19 more since, and his dramatic victory at the end of a chaotic season of racing last year was the culmination of many years of intense effort for Red Bull to gain their first title since 2013.

The 24-year-old said “I love you guys so much,” on the radio after the race at the Yas Marina circuit last month, and is keen to extend his stay at the Milton Keynes-based team for a while yet.

“I said on the radio on the in-lap [in Abu Dhabi], I want to do this with this team for another 10 to 15 years,” he noted.

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In 2019, Verstappen had a clause in his contract that, were Red Bull not in a sufficiently competitive position, he would be permitted to find another team.

But Horner values the bond he and his team share with the world champion more than a signature on a dotted line.

“Relationships, I think, are not about contracts, it’s exactly about relationships,” Horner said, as quoted by Speedcafe.

“And Max, he came into the team as almost a boy and he’s grown into a young man, and he’s grown with the team.

“I think the relationship we share, the trust we share in each other, is worth more than any piece of paper.”

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The Briton suggested that further success may be on the horizon, and is looking forward to having the Dutchman at the team during his best years.

“I look forward to racing with Max for many years to come and I believe the best years are very much still to come,” he affirmed.

Verstappen will once again partner Sergio Perez at Red Bull in 2022, and has previously praised the efforts of the Mexican in helping fend off Hamilton to aid him to title glory.

As such, the 24-year-old wants his team-mate to be given a fair shot at the championship this upcoming season, which gets underway in Bahrain on 20 March.

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