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Horner faces tough future task: There isn't another Max

Max Verstappen has given Red Bull the return on investment it sought when signing him as a driver in 2015. But with his contract due to end in 2028, will there be an 'after Max' for the team to consider?

Max Verstappen has smashed records, became a two-time World Champion, and managed to help bring the Constructors Championship back to Red Bull. To all intents Red Bull has received return on their investment into the Dutchman when they welcomed him to the team as a driver for Toro Rosso in 2015. But what about life in the team after Verstappen? Red Bull has already secured its future as an engine supplier alongside Ford for 2026, but with Verstappen's contract set to expire in 2028 will there be another young driver that comes along like him? “There isn’t another Max," team boss Christian Horner explains to i News . "If you look back at 2021 at the pressure he had at certain points he drove some incredible races." “In Zandvoort, his home nation had turned it into a flipping nightclub for the weekend. The noise on the grid, the expectation, the royal family was there." Horner believes one of the main traits of Verstappen is his ability to detach himself from the noise generated by the often busy F1 weekends, focusing on the job in hand. "I remember watching him getting ready for the race, just a 24-year-old lad, he had this amazing ability to detach himself from what was going on around him and just be in the moment," he explains. "He drove an incredible race, won it, but there was no crowd surfing at the end of it. It was just on to the next one.”

Red Bull happy with Perez

Sergio Perez enters his third season with the team alongside Verstappen, which is arguably his best shot at taking the title challenge to the Dutchman. Horner says the biggest challenge for Perez will be to sustain that over the course of one of the longest seasons in F1 history. He added: "Checo was on the ropes careerwise. We did a deal that gave him a second wind and he has now won four grands prix and numerous podiums. He is driving better and better and finding his confidence. "The biggest challenge for Checo is sustaining that over 23 events because that is where Max has become so strong over the last few years with the relentless consistency that he has.”

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