Dutch teenager Max Verstappen’s long-term Formula One future is at Red Bull in a potential dream pairing with Australian Daniel Ricciardo, team principal Christian Horner said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix, where 18-year-old Verstappen will debut for the team after being promoted from sister outfit Toro Rosso last week, Horner talked up the driver’s prospects.
“A Ricciardo-Verstappen line up for me is potentially one of the, if not THE, strongest pairing of future years,” he declared.
“Make no mistake about it, he’s one of the hottest prospects in Formula One,” he said of Verstappen, who made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso at 17 last year.
“I think this move also kills off the driver market regarding Red Bull drivers for the foreseeable future.”
Red Bull were dominant between 2010 and 2013, winning four driver’s and constructor’s titles in a row with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel moved to Ferrari at the end of 2014 but Red Bull’s fortunes had dived with the change from V8 engines to V6 hybrid power units.
With Renault showing signs of improvement, and hopes that the gaps between dominant Mercedes and the rest will narrow further next year when the rules change, Horner saw Verstappen as the future.
Horner said Verstappen had also shown the “absolute desire burning within him” and he could now be measured against one of the best.
“The way Daniel’s driving at the moment, I don’t believe there’s a better driver in Formula One than Daniel,” he said of the Australian. “The thought of the pairing is fantastically exciting for us.”