Max Verstappen says signing his long-term Formula 1 future at Red Bull became a certainty after seeing the team’s ambitions in the world title fight and believes he will have an edge “when everything is put together in pressure situations”.

The Dutch driver acted as the closest rival to the dominant Mercedes duo last year as he claimed third place in the F1 world drivers’ standings with highlights from wins in Austria, Germany and Brazil.

The 22-year-old had been set to become one of the hottest properties on the driver market but Red Bull quickly dispelled outside interest by securing him to a new contract which keeps him at the team until the end of 2023.

Reflecting on the reasons behind his decision to commit his long-term future at Red Bull, the eight-time F1 Grand Prix winner feels the Milton Keynes-based squad is building towards a world title-winning setup with its Honda engine partnership while it has been able to demonstrate its credentials when the pressure has cranked up.

All three of Verstappen’s 2019 wins came through either aggressive on-track action or forcing mistakes from rivals, with both triumphs at Hockenheim and Interlagos standout moments which helped convince him to stay put.

“It takes away any doubts. There are no question marks,” Verstappen said about his new F1 deal. “For me, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing is the right place to be. I feel really good in the team. There are a lot of good people here and I also see the motivation and hunger to fight for victories and possibly a championship.

“Everything is very car dependent in Formula 1, but when you can put pressure on the guy in front it’s a lot harder for him. I’m looking forward to it.

“When everything is put together, in pressure situations – such as in Brazil or Germany – then the team really excels compared to the others.”

With both Verstappen and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner optimistic of a sustained F1 world title fight against Mercedes this season, the Dutch driver is looking to create more races where he can apply pressure on his opponents.

“I’m looking forward to when we get that fight and we are really close. If we get that then I’m pretty sure we can win,” he said.

Verstappen will help Red Bull launch its 2019 F1 car, the RB16, on February 12 in a digital presentation with a shakedown event at Silverstone pencilled in on the same day.

F1 pre-season testing gets underway at Circuit de Catalunya one week later on February 19-21 before the second test at the Spanish Grand Prix venue on February 26-28.

 

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