Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that discussions will be held over Max Verstappen’s long-term future with the team in the wake of his dramatic Drivers’ Championship triumph on Sunday afternoon. The 24-year-old clinched his maiden title under wildly controversial circumstances at the Yas Marina Circuit after a late safety car period changed the entire trajectory of the race.
Lewis Hamilton had built up a comfortable lead over his Red Bull rival before Nicholas Latifi’s crash with five laps remaining gave the Dutchman a route back into the contest.
He reaped the rewards of FIA race director Michael Masi’s contentious decision to only allow some lapped drivers to unlap themselves under the safety car.
This gave Verstappen a clear run at Hamilton on much fresher soft compound tyres for the final-lap shootout that followed.
He went on to overtake his Mercedes counterpart before defending his lead to clinch the Drivers’ Championship title in an extraordinary conclusion to this year’s battle for individual glory.
Verstappen is already contracted to Red Bull until the end of the 2023 season but Marko has declared that extension talks will soon take place in an attempt to keep him on their books for as long as possible.
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When quizzed on whether the Dutchman’s long-term future at Red Bull could be secured over the coming weeks, Marko told Formel1.de: “We’ll see, we will discuss and perhaps conclude an extension.”
Verstappen has previously been linked with a surprise move to Mercedes, who attempted to snap him up ahead of Red Bull in 2014.
He reportedly met with Toto Wolff and the late Niki Lauda after that year’s German Grand Prix to discuss the possibility of joining the Silver Arrows in 2015.
However, Mercedes were unable to promise Verstappen a race seat, with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg already under contract for the following season.
He ultimately signed for Red Bull, who were in a position to guarantee him a place at Toro Rosso alongside Carlos Sainz for the 2015 campaign.
Marko went on to declare that Mercedes would stand no chance of poaching the services of Verstappen in the future after the breakdown of their relationship with Red Bull over the course of this season.
“There is no such danger, too much was destroyed in Silverstone,” he added.
Meanwhile, the newly-crowned world champion has made no secret of the fact that he wants to stay with Red Bull for as long as possible.
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He underlined his commitment to building on this year’s Drivers’ Championship triumph over the next few campaigns at Thursday’s end-of-season FIA gala.
“I think you heard on my radio [in Abu Dhabi] as well, on the in lap, asking if I could stay for another 10/15 years, so I am very happy where I am,” said Verstappen.
“And also just I can be myself, and that I think is also really important. And it’s not only about just purely F1, we can have fun, we can have a good laugh.
“I think that’s also important. Because it’s not only about performance, also you need to enjoy what you’re doing.”
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