Max Verstappen has cited preventing an ‘awkward’ experience was one of the reasons he chose to re-sign with Red Bull Racing with a year to run on his current contract.
Red Bull announced early last month that it had inked a new, three-year deal which keeps Verstappen at the team until at least the end of 2023.
Helmut Marko revealed in the days following that news that Red Bull felt the need to lock up the Dutchman in case Lewis Hamilton goes to Ferrari and Mercedes needs a replacement for the six-time world champion.
For Verstappen, however, the timing of the decision was about putting his mind at ease.
“I think I always felt very comfortable in the team and I never really wanted to rush anything because there was no need,” he said at a Red Bull media event in London.
“I think also it all went very quickly. Last year I never really thought about it too much.
“I think it’s also a good thing because it takes away any doubt. There are no question marks anymore.
“I think when you go into a season when your contract is up at the end of the year, at one point, it is going to maybe be a bit awkward.
“I didn’t want to have any of that and for me, this is the right place. I feel really good in the team, there are a lot of good people in the team, and I also see the motivation and hunger to fight for victories and championship.
“Looking at this year we want to mount a challenge to Mercedes and I think we can do that.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner had a similar view, and said that Verstappen’s commitment was a boost to all of the staff at the workshop.
“It was fantastic to get into that deal done early, because of the energy that injected into the whole factory,” said Horner.
“Everybody came back from the Christmas holiday with a spring in their step.
“Everybody knows what the future is. There are no awkward conversations between the driver and the team. He knows exactly what his role is. We’re all in it very much together as one unit, as one team.
“It can be awkward if that situation isn’t clear during the course of the year, and F1 is a rollercoaster of emotions during the course of those 21 or 22 races.
“To have this out of the way going into the season not to deal with endless speculation, all the social media that goes with that, the unsettling it creates within your own workplace.
“It enables us just to really focus on the job and I’m delighted.”
Verstappen will be partnered by Alexander Albon in 2020, with the RB16 to be launched on February 12 and pre-season testing to begin in Barcelona on February 19.
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THE NEXT RACE 2021
|02:00 - 03:30||Free practice 1|
|06:00 - 07:30||Free practice 2|
|04:00 - 05:00||Free practice 3|
|07:00 - 07:18||Qualifying|
|06:10 - 08:10||Race|