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Horner: New Verstappen deal to prevent rumours over his F1 future

Red Bull says it pushed to tie Max Verstappen to a long-term contract to prevent speculation over his Formula 1 future distracting the team from its on-track efforts

The Milton Keynes-based team caused a surprise on Friday when it announced that Verstappen had been locked down until the end of 2020.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that the decision to do the deal - even though Verstappen was already committed until at least the end of next year - was essential to stop the rumour mill.

"In order to get rid of distractions and speculation it was better to address it," Horner told Autosport.

"The team wanted to retain him; Max wanted to stay with the team, so it was a pretty simple extension at the end of the day - and just takes out any ambiguity.

"The team know where we're at, Max knows where he's at, and we can just focus on building the best car we can."

Although Verstappen has had his frustrations with engine reliability - and is taking a 15-place grid penalty this weekend for another engine change - Horner insisted the Dutchman had complete faith in what Red Bull could do in the future.

"I think he's seen the depth and strength of the team this year, and how we've developed the car," he said.

"He believes in what the team's doing and he feels very comfortable in the team. Likewise [us] with him.

"The priority now is to make sure we retain Daniel as well."

Horner also said that uncertainty about Red Bull's engine plans beyond 2018 - with Renault not wanting to continue its supply deal - had not been a hurdle in getting the deal done.

"He's aware of the options we have, and he's comfortable we'll make the best decisions for the team," Horner added.

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