Verstappen has an exit clause
Whether Ferrari or Mercedes: The re have been rumors about a possible Red Bull departure from Max Verstappen for years. As “F1-Insider” now wants to know, after the 2021 season there is actually a contractually fixed possibility for the Dutchman to leave the Red Bulls.
Marko confirms the sensitive content of the contract
Verstappen is actually still tied to Red Bull until the end of 2023, but the clause should enable him to give up before then. It says that in the season that is about to start, Verstappen must be provided with a car with which he can “become world champion”. An initially vague statement, but according to the report it is tied to a certain condition: Verstappen’s car must therefore be no more than 0.3 seconds behind the fastest car in the field.
Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko personally confirms to the ‘F1 Insider’ that this news is not entirely out of thin air: “Yes, there is a performance clause. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it says more or more less that Max has to fight for race wins and the world championship title so that the contract is extended until 2023. If this is not the case, he is contractually free at the end of the season. “
Departure to Mercedes conceivable
Conversely, that means a lot of work for the team from Milton Keynes if they want to keep their superstar beyond the year. In 2020, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were missing on average around half a second.
Macht’s Verstappen who Vettel
Although Helmut Marko’s clear statement regarding his protégé is surprising, Red Bull knows from personal experience that “performance clauses” are commonplace in today’s F1. Because in a similar way, the racing team lost Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari in mid-2014. At the time, the four-time world champion had in his contract that his contract would be invalid for 2015 unless he is at least third in the championship at the end of September.
Whether Verstappen will take a similar step remains uncertain, because the circumstances are different. A completely new set of rules will come in 2022, so a continuation of the Mercedes dominance is not set in stone. A change therefore also harbors a risk.