Verstappen exit understandable if Red Bull don't fight for 2020 F1 title

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Max Verstappen's wish to leave Red Bull would be understandable if they can't produce a championship-contending car in 2020.

That is the claim of former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard amid speculation the Dutchman could be tempted to join Mercedes for 2021 with his current contract set to expire.

This season, Verstappen enjoyed his best season to date with three wins and two poles to finish third in the Drivers' standings, but the Scot knows the 22-year-old now needs to take the next step.

"Max is one of the best drivers, but he has been limited somewhat by the car," Coulthard told Holland's De Telegraaf.

"It would be great for Formula 1 if the cars driven by Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc are all approximately equal – then we will see an exciting fight.

"But in the last six years, Mercedes has had the best car. I would really like to see Max stay at Red Bull, but I understand if he would want to leave if Red Bull and Honda cannot fight for the title in 2020.

"It's going to be a very important year for them."

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Given the progress that both team and engine supplier have made this year though, team boss Christian Horner believes his star driver is still satisfied with the potential at Red Bull.

"Almost all the top drivers will be without a contract in 2021, but Max is happy here, he fits well with us," he claimed.

"We have to give him a good car next year, so that we can keep him.

"Everyone should stay with the same team for the same money. [Charles] Leclerc is secure, Lewis is happy where he is, Max is happy. Why would they change?"

Well, Max's father Jos Verstappen suggested a reason why.

"Because the rules remain the same, we hope that we can challenge Mercedes," he said.

"They are still the benchmark. Next year's car is almost the same as now, so things will not change significantly."