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Verstappen locks in to Red Bull until 2020 with new F1 contract

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Max Verstappen will remain with Red Bull Racing for at least the next three Formula 1 seasons after agreeing an extension to his current contract, announced on Friday.

Verstappen, 20, was fast-tracked into F1 as a 17-year-old back in 2015 with Red Bull’s B-team, Toro Rosso, before moving up to its front-running operation at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen was victorious on debut for Red Bull, becoming the youngest grand prix winner in F1 history in the process, and has followed this up with a second win for the team in Malaysia at the start of this month.

Known to be out of contract at the end of next year, speculation was already rife about Verstappen’s future given his ability and potential, only for Red Bull to end it early by surprising the F1 paddock with an announcement ahead of practice for the United States Grand Prix.

“Red Bull has always shown their faith and belief in me with actions; inviting me in to the young driver programme as a 16-year-old, then giving me my start in Formula 1 when I was just 17, and then the opportunity to race with Red Bull Racing where I had such a dream start with this team,” Verstappen said.

“They have always backed me and my ambition and I know we share that ambition. Their support, from the guys and girls in the factory through to the crew in the garage, no matter what plays out on the race track, has always been 100 per cent.

“We’ve also had some fun times! I’m very happy to commit further to Red Bull Racing and I’m looking forward to working together to enjoy more success in the years to come.”

“We are delighted that Max has agreed to extend his contract with Red Bull Racing. We had a phenomenal start together in Spain last year and Max has only pushed on from there,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.

“It was a great moment for the whole team to see him put the frustrations of this season behind him in taking that fantastic victory in Malaysia last month.

“He is pure racer, with an undeniable talent at the wheel and a rare instinct for what it takes to compete consistently at this level.

“Coupled with a committed work ethic and a mature approach to learning his craft that belies his years, Max is right to be hungry for success and we are looking forward to extending that journey with him in our hunt for Formula 1 World Championships.

“As we now look to the long term with Max he is in the best place in the sport to build a team around him to deliver our shared ambition.”

Verstappen’s confirmation makes him only the second driver to have an F1 deal in place beyond the end of next season, the other being Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”