Verstappen: Early Red Bull renewal was to avoid 'awkwardness'

Luke Smith

Red Bull announced last month that Verstappen had signed a new three-year contract, committing him to the team until the end of the 2023 season and ending any speculation of a switch away.

The Dutchman's previous contract expired at the end of the 2020 season, with seats free at both Mercedes and Ferrari for 2021.

Speaking at a Red Bull media event in London, Verstappen said that while he was in no rush to sign a new contract, he was glad to avoid any potential problems uncertainty about his future could create.

"I think I always felt very comfortable in the team and I never really wanted to rush anything because there was no need," Verstappen said.

"I think also it all went very quickly. Last year I never really thought about it too much.

"I think it's also a good thing because it takes away any doubt. There are no question marks anymore.

"I think when you go into a season when your contract is up at the end of the year, at one point, it is going to maybe be a bit awkward towards the next car you know the year after.

"I didn't want to have any of that and for me, this is the right place. I feel really good in the team, there are a lot of good people in the team, and I also see the motivation and hunger to fight for victories and championship."

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Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner said he could notice how invigorated many of the team members were returning from the winter break after learning of Verstappen's extension.

"It was fantastic to get into that deal done early, because of the energy that injected into the whole factory. Everybody came back from the Christmas holiday with a spring in their step," Horner said.

"Everybody knows what the future is. There are no awkward conversations between the driver and the team. He knows exactly what his role is. We're all in it very much together as one unit, as one team.

"It can be awkward if that situation isn't clear during the course of the year, and F1 is a rollercoaster of emotions during the course of those 21 or 22 races.

"To have this out of the way going into the season not to deal with endless speculation, all the social media that goes with that, the unsettling it creates within your own workplace.

"It enables us just to really focus on the job and I'm delighted."