[F1 2017 NEWS] RED BULL: VERSTAPPEN COMMITS

Dutch superstar Max Verstappen has taken a bold step towards his future - sticking with Red Bull Racing until the end of 2020.

The announcement, made ahead of the United States GP, was a surprise - with Verstappen enduring arguably his most difficult year yet - featuring a scarcely believable seven DNFs.

…his results-drought broken with a crushing win in Malaysia, his first visit to the rostrum since China in April; followed by a podium in Japan, and another dominant victory in front of packed grandstands in Mexico.

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
"The last few races we have been doing quite well so we will just try and continue that and hopefully we can score a podium."

The new contract was also a surprise, for most expected Verstappen to be off to either Mercedes or Ferrari from 2019.

But with Sebastian Vettel staying at the Scuderia until the end of 2020 and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton likely to set the same duration in stone - neither squad could guarantee equal status to the Dutchman.

So the only unrestricted top team drive was at Red Bull Racing, where he has developed his craft over the past season and a half.

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
"I have been actually quite happy with how I evolved through the year. Of course also with positive things, but also with a lot of negative things happening during the race. I think it makes you a stronger person and sometimes of course it is not easy to go through.”

Add to that the allure of a top driver salary, said to be upwards of $30 million US dollars annually for 2019 and 2020, double his alleged taking for this year and next - and you have an easy choice - especially with a future budget cap likely to put downward pressure on salaries.

There's also a lot riding on it, with the young gun considered F1's future.

But, Verstappen, and his father - former-F1 driver Jos “The Boss” - have been making career decisions from the outset.

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN, 
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
"At four years old, I was at a go-karting track and I saw somebody driving who was even younger than me so I called my dad and said that I wanted to have a go-kart but he said no. He wanted me to start at six. But, then after I kept pushing to have a go-kart - and I finally started when I was four-and-a-half."

2013 was a top year - with Verstappen European karting champion, then world champion. He finished third in the European F3 championship the following season - but won the F3 Masters.

He was picked up by Red Bull in 2014, with less than a year between his last kart race and first F1 test.

SOUNDBITE (English) JOS VERSTAPPEN, 
F1 DRIVER 1994-2003:
“This is what we want to do or what Max wants to do and he is fit to race a racing car, and I think he knows what he’s doing.”

And he’s since shown he knows exactly what he’s doing with a victory on debut for Red Bull Racing in Spain last year - and numerous breathtaking performances and overtakes throughout.

His penalised pass on Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen on the last lap in Austin a classic example of the Dutchman’s tenacity in battle.

The focus is now on Red Bull to provide the right car - and if it can do that, it can again rule the world, one Verstappen victory at a time.