July 16, 2024
Max Verstappen

Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Shanghai International circuit © Pedro Pardo / AFP

Max Verstappen again publicly committed his long-term future to Red Bull on Thursday, saying that as long as he was happy there was “no reason to leave”.

There has been speculation the triple world champion could move to Mercedes to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton next year after Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was accused of inappropriate conduct towards a woman colleague.

Horner was cleared of any wrongdoing ahead of the season-opener in Bahrain but the off-track scandal rumbled on for weeks.

The Dutchman Verstappen is signed with Red Bull until 2028 but suggested earlier in the season that he would consider leaving if the team parted company with long-time mentor Helmut Marko.

Max Verstappen’s father Jos has claimed that Red Bull faced being “torn apart” if Horner remained in position.

However, the paddock chatter in Shanghai this week has been firmly back on racing, something that pleased Verstappen.

“After 2021 I signed a long deal with the team. The only thing I said from the beginning was that I wanted to have a quiet, peaceful environment,” Verstappen told reporters.

“Lately we have been talking about the car, so I am very happy about that already.

“That’s also how it should be. And of course as long as I am happy with the team, there has never been a reason to leave.”

Max Verstappen is chasing a fourth victory in five races in 2024 but admitted the weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix will be an unknown quantity.

The Formula One circus is back at the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time in five years with a sprint race on Saturday.

“With the new cars of course there will be a little bit of the unknown,” said Verstappen. “Of course it is the same for everyone.”

There is only one practice session on Friday before sprint qualifying, so Verstappen said it was important for the team to get the set-up nailed early.

“We need to have a good FP1 where we don’t have to fine-tune too much on the car. That will really help,” he said.

“Time will tell, I’m not too worried about it.”

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