Red Bull boss Helmut Marko has warned he “doesn’t’ know” if rumours Max Verstappen’s contract is valued the same as Lewis Hamilton’s are true. Verstappen is understood to have penned a deal worth £40million a year, matching that of Hamilton.
The Dutchman’s new contract was a substantial pay rise after he won the 2021 drivers’ title in Abu Dhabi. The deal could even be double what Verstappen was paid before he won the world title.
Hamilton’s current contract runs out at the end of 2023 and if the seven-time champion walks away from the sport, Verstappen will be the highest-paid driver on the grid. Addressing rumours on whether the deal was the same as Hamilton’s, Marko told Dutch magazine Formule 1: “I don’t know if that’s true, because I don’t know Hamilton’s contract.
“It seems normal to me that Max will earn more as world champion. I am proud of what Max has achieved.”
Marko also claimed it was an easy decision to give Verstappen a contract extension with the team. After the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen explained why he wanted to stay with the team for the “rest of my life”.
It means when it came to negotiations, both sides clearly saw it to be a formality.
Marko added: “It confirms that it was the right choice at the time to bring him to Formula 1. And it has also silenced all the scepticism that existed in the beginning. The decision to renew the contract for an extremely long term was not such a difficult one. We only had to change the years for the new contract.”
Hamilton addressed Verstappen’s contract directly ahead of the new season when asked if he would still be in F1 to see out the Dutchman’s mega-deal.
However, the Briton said he doesn’t plan on being in F1 at that stage in a hint he is nearing the end of his F1 career.
He said: “I haven’t thought about that number, because I’m 37, a bit to go! I don’t plan being here close to that age. Hopefully, I’ll have something else fun to do.”
Both drivers have had poor starts to the new season for different reasons. Hamilton is struggling to extract pace from his new Mercedes car with the team third-fastest on the track.
Meanwhile, Verstappen has been plagued by technical glitches and has not finished two of the last three races.