Max Verstappen does not have a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave Red Bull Racing when Honda exits, Christian Horner has advised.
That decision led to speculation that Verstappen could follow the Japanese marque out the door, despite having signed on until the end of 2023 before the current season.
However, speaking on Red Bull’s own ServusTV station, Horner denied that the Dutchman has a get-out clause which would enable him to do so.
Instead, Honda’s commitment to introduce a new engine next year is said to have energised Verstappen.
“There is no such clause in his contract,” said the Red Bull Team Principal.
“The contracts between the driver and the team are private, but there is definitely no engine-related clause in Max’s contract.
“He is competitive. He feels very comfortable in the team and believes strongly in the Honda programme.
“I think he also sees that Honda has brought forward the engine from 2022 to 2021. That is encouraging, of course.
“So we will take another step forward next year. He’s excited about this, and he still has a long way to go until 2022.”
On the face of it, that would be an awkward scenario given past acrimony between those teams and the French marque.
However, Renault has since installed new leadership including CEO Luca de Meo, and Horner suggested that previous grievances might not be a drama.
“We must now start thinking about an engine partner for 2022,” he said.
“We need clarity by the end of the year.
“Of course, we have to consider all possibilities, all options. But in the end, Mr (Dietrich) Mateschitz must decide how to proceed. But it is important for us to have enough power to challenge Mercedes in the coming years.
“Of course, I understand why people assume that we will talk to Renault.
“Since the separation, Renault has changed. The new board brings a lot of fresh wind and some changes. Things are moving forward.”
Horner also played down the idea that Red Bull, or another manufacturer, might buy Honda’s intellectual property to produce its own F1 engines.
“The cost of getting a new manufacturer on board under the current regulations is simply far too high,” he asserted.
“So, there will be no new manufacturer until a new engine – possibly 2026 – comes on the market. The costs for development are enormously high.
“The FIA and Liberty have to get a grip on this. They have done a good job on the chassis. Now we need homologated engines and we also need budget caps for the power units.”
The current F1 season resumes this weekend with the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.