Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen has shown this year that he has the right temperament to lead the team in the longer term.
Verstappen has been a revelation since being promoted to a race seat in F1 at the age of 17, spending just over a season at Toro Rosso before stepping up to Red Bull and winning on debut in 2016. This year saw Verstappen bounce back from a number of reliability problems to win two of the final six races, and Horner believes the Dutchman’s strength of character at such a young age should not be overlooked.
“I think he’s had a great season,” Horner told RACER. “He had so much bad luck this year I think he’s done a phenomenal job. He’s got stronger and stronger and stronger as his confidence has come as well, and he’s driven some awesome races this year.
“You have to remember he doesn’t have that much experience at 19 for most of the year – recently turned 20 – and I think the way he dealt with that frustration was very impressive.”
And when asked if Verstappen’s temperament marks him out as a driver that Red Bull can build a team around – having extended his contract earlier this season – Horner replied: “We see all those qualities in him which is why we were particularly keen to get his services under contract until 2020.
“I really believe we have the best line-up in Formula 1 with the two drivers we have and that’s why, again, we’re very keen to tie Daniel [Ricciardo] down for a similar duration.”
Ricciardo is currently out of contract at the end of next season and Horner has previously stated his main target is to retain the Australian but warned Red Bull “won’t wait around forever” while he weighs up his options in the New Year.