Red Bull Racing Shoots For 2020 Contract Extensions with Ricciardo, Verstappen
With both young guns improving, are they likely to stay put?
Red Bull F1 has continued to pick up the pace in this second half of the 2017 Formula One season. With Max Verstappen winning in Malaysia and both drivers achieving the podium in Japan, the team's predictions and performance have been spot on. Its proven success collectively boils down to engineering improvements and the abilities of both Ricciardo and young Max, and now, reports claim that Red Bull is actively seeking out contract extensions with its two current pilots through 2020.
Rumors of a driver shakeup have swirled around the team throughout the year. After suffering through a slew of engine problems and 7 DNFs, Max Verstappen had made his frustration clear, even saying that he was "questioning everything" about his future with the team. Ricciardo has remained mostly quiet on his fate within the organization, but his known ties with Mercedes and Ferrari do raise a question. However, as Motorsport.com reveals, team boss Christian Horner says that the team has full intentions of pursuing the duo past their current contracts.
Ricciardo's existing deal expires in 2018, potentially contributing to the major shift in driver free agency come the following year. It was rumored by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko that the Australian driver was "on the market," a statement which Horner replied to by saying, "Helmut likes to state the obvious, and it's obvious he's on the open market but it doesn't mean we don't want him."
Horner continued to mention the team's plan going forward by adding, "...the absolute intention is we want Ricciardo and Verstappen in Red Bull Racing cars going forward. They both enjoy being in the team.
"I think the difference with Daniel is for the first time in his career at Red Bull he's got an end in sight to his contract."
As for Verstappen, earlier speculation claimed that he could be on the move as soon as 2019. The 20-year old suffered through a rough first half and said that if the team didn't become more successful by next year, things would become "more complicated." Red Bull seems to have responded to that criticism by making major tweaks to the chassis which the aformentioned Marko called the best setup in Formula One.