Max Verstappen has signed a new contract believed to be worth £40million a year to remain Red Bull’s superstar driver beyond his 30th birthday. Sportsmail understands the new world champion, now 24, visited the team’s factory in Milton Keynes on Tuesday to tie up the last threads of the deal, having committed to the eye-watering terms during pre-season testing in Barcelona last week.
The extension catapults Verstappen to the very front row of Formula One earners, alongside only the Mercedes rival he beat to the title so dramatically in Abu Dhabi last December, Lewis Hamilton.But given the length of the Dutchman’s contract — a multi-year arrangement on top of his existing deal, which anyway took him to the end of the 2023 season — it represents perhaps the most remunerative driver package in the sport’s history.
Although Red Bull declined to confirm Sportsmail’s news, someone close to the talks said: ‘It has all been agreed. Max is staying for a long time, maybe even five years extra. It also equates to a substantial financial rise, virtually doubling his money.’ The conclusion of talks follows a well-sourced report in Holland’s De Telegraaf that Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen flew to Graz, Austria,
last month to meet Red Bull’s motorsport adviser Helmut Marko. It is not likely to have been too fraught a negotiation, given that Marko and team principal Christian Horner, backed by billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz, were determined to keep hold of their favourite son on a long-term basis. There is mutual respect between Verstappen and those he works with, a sentiment that hardened in the crucible of the heated title scrap.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had been actively tracking Verstappen, but relations broke down at Silverstone last year. The Red Bull man, involved in a terrifying 180mph collision with Hamilton, was angry at how enthusiastically Mercedes celebrated victory while he was receiving treatment in hospital. That fallout put paid to even the remotest chance of Wolff landing his target.
Verstappen, whose raw pace and uncompromising style have won a host of admirers, will open his defence in Bahrain in 18 days in what will, remarkably, be his eighth season in Formula One. After making his debut aged 17 in the 2015 Australian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso, he gained promotion to Red Bull the following year. Verstappen’s new contract is set to be announced later this week.