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Max Verstappen

Verstappen Red Bull escape clause revealed

It has emerged that Max Verstappen has an escape clause in his Red Bull contract linked to Helmut Marko

Verstappen Marko
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Max Verstappen has an escape clause in his highly lucrative contract with Red Bull that is linked to advisor Helmut Marko, RacingNews365 has learned.

Despite a contract through to the end of 2028 which is reportedly worth £ 50 million per year, Verstappen's future with the team has been brought into focus recently given the furore which has surrounded team principal Christian Horner.

Horner has been forced to fight for his career with a team that stems back to its inception in 2005, since when he has played a crucial role in helping Red Bull win seven drivers' titles and six constructors' championships.

But over the past few weeks, Horner has been investigated for 'inappropriate behaviour' with a female colleague at Red Bull. The 50-year-old was eventually cleared following what was described in a statement by parent company Red Bull GmbH as a "fair, rigorous and impartial" review of the evidence.

Twenty-four hours later, however, an email from an anonymous source containing files of alleged Whatsapp conversations between Horner and the woman concerned, was distributed to high-profile figures inside the FIA, F1, the sport's owners Liberty Media, as well as many members of the F1 media.

Horner weathered the storm that followed, insisting he had considerable support, including from his family and Spice Girl wife Geri, who opted to attend Saturday's Bahrain Grand Prix. The couple entered the paddock holding hands and were later photographed sharing a kiss.

Verstappen's father Jos, however, made incendiary comments - understood to be before the race - claiming the situation inside Red Bull was tense and would "explode" if Horner remained in charge.

The inference from Verstappen was a 'him-or-us' scenario whereby triple world champion son Max would leave if Horner continued at the helm.

Tensions eased

Fuel was added to the fire with Verstappen Sr seen in discussions with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, whilst it is also known they dined together one evening over the Bahrain GP weekend while staying at the same hotel.

It is known Verstappen has a performance-related escape clause in his current deal. However, quite naturally it has no chance of being activated in light of his flying start to this season with his grand chelem victory in Bahrain as the RB20 proved a class above.

However, it has emerged - and RacingNews365 sources have verified - that Verstappen could also leave should Marko depart.

The two have long been allies, with Verstappen siding with Marko last year when moves were seemingly being made behind the scenes to oust the 80-year-old following the expiry of a contract that was eventually renewed.

Whilst Verstappen is far from expected to leave, the clause at least provides an option.

For now, the situation between Verstappen Sr and Horner, who were seen involved in a heated exchange inside the Red Bull paddock building at one stage during the Bahrain GP weekend, has been temporarily diffused.

That follows a meeting in Dubai on Monday between Horner and Verstappen's manager, Raymond Vermeulen, that was designed to clear the air and ease tensions.

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