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Horner: No performance escape clause in Verstappen’s F1 contract

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has denied there is a performance clause in Max Verstappen’s contract that could allow him to leave the team at the end of the season.

Verstappen is currently on a difficult run of form that has seen him suffer five retirements in the past seven races, leaving him seventh in the F1 drivers’ championship with less than half the points of teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Speculation quietly emerged in the paddock over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that Verstappen could consider leaving Red Bull for 2018 via a performance escape clause in his contract.

Sebastian Vettel was able to get out of his contract for 2015 in order to join Ferrari due to a performance clause that Red Bull failed to meet, but Horner said there would be no repeat of this for next year.

“No. Both the drivers we’ve already confirmed for next year,” Horner told NBCSN.

“There will be no changes in our driver line-up for 2018.”

When directly asked if Verstappen had an escape clause in his contract, Horner said: “No. Contracts are very straightforward.”

Verstappen’s DNFs have been a mix of on-track incidents and technical issues, but Horner does not feel that his aggressive driving style is the cause.

“It’s nothing to do with the way he drives the cars, that’s for sure,” Horner said.

“He’s just had rotten luck the last few races. It will turn, hopefully this weekend. And when it does, he’s driving so well, hopefully he’ll get a good result.”

F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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