The timing of Red Bull's announcement that Max Verstappen had decided to extend his stay with the team to the end of 2020 was a surprise. The Dutchman has endured a mixed campaign that has yielded one victory but also persistent unreliability, which has led to speculation that he could escape to join Mercedes or Ferrari. Committing to Red Bull right now is strange.
The team was supposed to be a title contender this season, given the prowess of its technical department and the change in aerodynamic regulations. But it's not emerged as one. There is also uncertainty regarding its engine situation beyond 2018, with Renault eyeing an end to its supply deal. That leaves Honda as the most likely replacement, particularly as it will be supplying Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso, and currently that isn't such an appealing option.
But Verstappen has clearly been convinced that staying put at Red Bull is the way forward. A pay rise, believed to be significant, would certainly have helped, as would Red Bull chief Christian Horner's comment that "he is in the best place in the sport to build a team around him to deliver our shared ambition". That's one way to make your driver feel loved. But how does it impact the guy on the other side of the garage?