Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda and Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko have traded light-hearted comments against one another over Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull deal.

Red Bull quickly moved to secure Verstappen’s future in Formula 1 with a new contract on improved terms which ties the Dutch driver to the team until at least the end of the 2020 season. Speculation had grown about Mercedes and Ferrari interested in taking Verstappen from Red Bull but speaking on Austrian television Servus TV, Lauda refuted any official approach by Mercedes for the 20-year-old and joked the rumours forced Red Bull into paying Verstappen more money.

“We never offered him a contract,” Lauda said. “I have a good relationship to Helmut. We usually share an airplane. But when he is getting stubborn, and thinks that something could be taken away from him, he immediately signs a contract. He went to Austin with [Verstappen's] father and signed.”

Speaking to Marko later on in the show Lauda said: “If we had talked before, you would have saved money. We never talked to him about money.”

Marko replied by pointing to the fact Mercedes currently has the most expensive driver on the F1 grid, paying Lewis Hamilton an estimated £30m per year, which is set to rise with a new contract for the reigning F1 world champion which could see him earn an estimated £120m over three years.

“Thanks for trying to help us save money,” Marko said. “We don't help you… you have no alternative for Hamilton, you have to pay him what he demands.

"We guaranteed that our most important people are committed until 2020 and all this convinced him. Of course, he used the chance to get a salary rise, it's within reason, but he’s far from Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel. When he wins championships he can reach that level.”

Verstappen and Ferrari’s Vettel are the only two F1 drivers on the current grid with a current deal beyond the end of 2018. Verstappen’s new deal keeps him at Red Bull for the next three seasons while Vettel recently re-signed at Ferrari until the end of 2020.

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