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  1. F1

Formula 1 - Motorsports: Verstappen commits future to Red Bull with new deal

Red Bull and Max Verstappen will continue their world championship-winning partnership for the foreseeable future after the Dutchman penned a new deal until the end of the 2028 season.

Verstappen arrives into 2022 on the back of a notoriously controversial title win after snatching it away from Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi.

It secured a maiden title triumph for a driver who has long been considered a box office addition to the grid and now he will aim to make it back-to-back titles in the new era of regulations beginning later this month at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen can be backed to win the title this season at 11/4 with Mercedes rival Hamilton available at 11/8 to reclaim his crown and simultaneously eclipse Michael Schumacher's record with an eighth success.

A happy marriage

Verstappen has been a mainstay of the Red Bull group since arriving into F1 as a precocious 17-year-old in 2015, initially with Red Bull's then-sister team Toro Rosso.

Straight away, it was evident that Max, son of ex-racer Jos, was the real deal and his aggressive driving style and tendency to speak his mind won him many fans.

It also saw him promoted to the main Red Bull team a year later and he won on his first outing with the senior team in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

There's no doubt he has had to be patient - Mercedes have been the dominant force in F1 for so long, but finally in 2021 a two-way battle ensued.

The 24-year-old's patience was rewarded and now he says he is settling down with the team he "loves".

Verstappen said: "I love this team and last year was simply incredible.

"Our goal since we came together in 2016 was to win the championship and we have done that. Now it's about keeping the number one on the car long term."

Red Bull's admiration of their champion certainly can't be questioned when looking at the numbers in his new contract - not only does the deal take him beyond his 30th birthday, he is being paid between 40-50million Euros per year, one of the most lucrative F1 contracts of all time

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Long-term thinking around F1

Verstappen's new deal comes in conjunction with other teams tying their star assets down to long-term contracts, with teams looking to maintain their best drivers in place for as long as possible.

A few weeks ago, ago Lando Norris signed a new deal with McLaren to the end of the 2025 season while Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is contracted to the same date.

Hamilton has been at Mercedes since 2013 and could be set for a ten-year anniversary if he sticks out this season and one more.

With the new regulations set to change the cars and the way they feel on track, teams are more than ever, wanting to keep their more experienced and talented drivers.

Pre-season testing indicates more competitiveness

While Red Bull and Mercedes are still expected to be at the front of the grid, the likes of Verstappen and Hamilton might have slightly more to contend with this year.

The main change comes in the form of aerodynamics, with ground effects being reintroduced for the first time since the 1980s - a move which will reduce the turbulent air between cars and theoretically, should lead to closer racing.

The top two constructors appear to have adapted well but so do the sleeping giants of Ferrari and McLaren who could be set to join in the title charge, judging by pre-season tests.

Antoeht change comes in the form of "standardised" car parts meaning there are certain parts which all teams must use, again in order to try and close the gap between the top and bottom.

That may be already having an effect and Verstappen will surely find his title defence much trickier than his title win.

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