Max Verstappen has signed a new long-term contract at Red Bull with an official announcement expected later in the week, multiple outlets are reporting.
The world champion’s current deal expires at the end of the 2023 season, and Netherlands newspaper De Telegraaf report the new contract will be for an additional four or five years.
That would take the 24-year-old close to or past his 30th birthday, a signal of intent from Red Bull as Verstappen prepares to defend his title this year.
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Verstappen is said to have agreed to the terms during last week’s pre-season testing in Barcelona before discussing the finer details at the team’s factory in Milton Keynes on Tuesday.
The reported £40m-a-year deal would put Verstappen on a financial par with rival Lewis Hamilton, whom he dramatically beat in a controversial finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.
One source told Daily Mail: “It has all been agreed. Max is staying for a long time, maybe even five years extra. It also equates to a substantial financial rise, virtually doubling his money.”
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The deal would be one of the most lucrative in the sport’s history.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton signed a two-year deal in 2021 with Mercedes that is reportedly worth £40m per year.
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Hamilton was eighth in Forbes’ 2021 list for highest-paid athletes, with Verstappen 27th.
The pair will reignite their battle in the 2022 season, which starts in Bahrain on March 20.
There had been doubts Hamilton would return after the manner of his title defeat last year, but he was back for testing as Mercedes topped Day 3 in Barcelona.
Ahead of his 16th season, Hamilton said: “Arriving and looking down the pit lane and seeing all the different cars, I think it's one of the most exciting and interesting seasons that I've ever embarked upon.
“It will be interesting to see where everyone comes out and where we stand in the first race.”
Meanwhile, Verstappen said it was “difficult” to decipher how his RB18 will fare in Bahrain after Red Bull completed fewer laps than Mercedes in testing.
Verstappen said: “It’s difficult to rate. What was positive is the car was running smooth, I was happy with the balance – but Bahrain is going to be completely different, so heading into race one, the car will be completely different as well.
“So for me, I just focussed on doing a lot of laps and try to really nail down every single aspect of the car.”
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