We were anticipating that the driver market for the 2021 season would be a fairly manic one as the majority of the grid was out of contract and the rule changes might have tempted some drivers to move elsewhere.
Charles Leclerc quickly shored up his future by re-signing with Ferrari until the end of 2024. Verstappen was another one of those hot potatoes as he could potentially have been on the shopping lists of both Ferrari and Mercedes, but he’s decided that the future of Red Bull with Honda looks rosy enough that he’s decided to stay put until the end of the 2023 season. He said:
“Honda coming onboard and the progress we have made over the last 12 months gives me even more motivation and the belief we can win together. I respect the way Red Bull and Honda work together and from all sides everyone is doing what they can to success. I want to win with Red Bull and our goal is of course to fight for a world championship together.”
Honda only recently confirmed an extension with Red Bull until the end of 2021 but with Verstappen now set to stay for a couple of years beyond that, it’ll be interesting to see whether that triggers Honda – who seem to really enjoy working with Red Bull and Verstappen – are compelled to make a longer-term commitment.
So, the top teams are making their intentions known early which will dilute the silly season discussion a bit, which is a shame. But there’s still plenty we can endlessly speculate about – will Lewis Hamilton sign for Ferrari? Can Valtteri Bottas get another one-year extension? Is Sebastian Vettel going to pack it all in?
There’s also the discussion of whether this will prove to be the right move for Verstappen, such as how many championships – if any – he’ll have by the time this new contact is up…