Does Honda’s F1 Exit Suddenly Change Everything for Max Verstappen and Red Bull?

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Earlier today, Honda announced their intention to leave Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season. And it does not leave the Red Bull-owned teams in a particularly comfortable position.

Wanting to gun for glory in this upcoming decade, Red Bull have been planning concrete steps to win the Championship again. But, the departure of Honda was not exactly part of the script.

However, with the Japanese manufacturer leaving in 2021, rumors now surround the future of one person. And that is the team’s star driver, 23-year-old Max Verstappen.

Could Max Verstappen Really Leave Red Bull?

Although it would not be music to the ears of Red Bull fans, the departure of Max Verstappen is a possibility. According to a report by The Race, they state that “While the precise details of the contract are not known, there are various performance-related clauses in there.”

“It also understood there are terms related to Honda’s involvement that means Verstappen could soon put himself on the market.”

Max Verstappen During The Russian GP Practice
Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – September 25, 2020 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during practice Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via REUTERS

Red Bull’s paramount priority, amidst a sea of changes, would be to retain Verstappen for the longer term. Having signed the Concorde Agreement until 2025, the Milton Keynes-based team have no plans to quit F1 themselves.

Instead, they will focus efforts on finding a solution in terms of the power unit supplier. They have done it before in 2019, and will do so again.

Verstappen’s options are not exactly unlimited

Even if the Dutch driver could leave Red Bull in 2022, it is hard to see where exactly he will fit in the current situation. After all, having an interest and actually executing it, are two different things.

Mercedes are set to keep their pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the immediate future. While Ferrari have Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who they intend on retaining beyond 2022 as well.

Max Verstappen Celebrates On The Russian GP Podium
Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – Second placed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates with a trophy on the podium after the race. Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon

Max Verstappen wants to win the Drivers’ Championship, but that is something he can still do with Red Bull Racing. The team has enough technical support and resources to give Max a winning car.

But despite the ongoing speculation, Verstappen and Red Bull are professional entities. And their present focus will lie on winning podium finishes and races.

The team has 7 races left this season. They will look to consolidate the runners-up position in the Constructors’ Standings.

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