Motor Sports

Horner confident Verstappen will see out Red Bull contract

LONDON; Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he was confident Max Verstappen would see out a contract that ties the triple Formula One champion to the team until 2028.

Verstappen's future has been the subject of considerable speculation after his father Jos called for Horner's departure following allegations made by a female employee about the Briton's conduct.

Horner was last week cleared of the accusations, which he denied.

"I'm certain that he will (see out his contract)," Horner told a press conference at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix yesterday.

"He's got a great team around him. He's got great faith in that team. And we've achieved an awful lot together. So he's committed to an agreement until 2028.

"From a team side, from Max's side, we're determined to build on the success that we've achieved already and those 55 victories have all come in Red Bull cars."

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton had earlier refused to rule out a Mercedes move for the Dutchman, however unlikely it may sound, because his own decision to join Ferrari next season showed anything is possible.

"My move has shown that anything's possible, and it's going to be a really interesting next six months or so," he told reporters.

"I don't have an extra scoop. I know that... I'm sure Max is on the list, but I'm pretty sure he's tied up, and also, I couldn't see why you would leave a car that is that good," added the Briton.

Vestappen won 19 of 22 races last year on his way to a third successive title.

The 26-year-old started the new season in Bahrain with a dominant win from pole position with the fastest lap and leading from start to finish.

Hamilton's Mercedes team mate George Russell said on Wednesday he was sure any team would want Verstappen, whose contract is believed to include release clauses linked to other key members of the team.

Hamilton and Verstappen fought for the 2021 title in controversial circumstances with the Red Bull driver winning after a late change to the safety car procedures tilted the final race in his favour.

The Briton, who has not won a race since that 2021 season, said the past would not count against Verstappen.

"He's a great driver. We spoke back then, and at that moment Max did what he had to do. It was nothing on him. It was the sport that let us down. That wasn't his fault," said Hamilton.

"In his position, I would have done exactly the same thing, so there are no issues there."

Verstappen agreed that Hamilton's move had changed the landscape.

"Nobody would have seen that Lewis would move to Ferrari," he told reporters in Jeddah. "You never know in general life what happens, or comes to you, or happens around you or what might influence you.

"So you can never say 100% that that is how it is going to be... but I am very relaxed and very happy at the team and the performance is there, so there is no reason to leave." -- Reuters

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