Wednesday 5 February at 07:35 :
Feb.5 (GMM) F1 could witness a new Max Verstappen in 2020, with a realistic chance of becoming the sport's youngest ever world champion.
That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, who over the winter managed to extend the 22-year-old Dutchman's contract for 2021, 2022 and 2023.
"For him it was important that Honda extended to 2021, so he could be fully involved in the development of that car," the top Red Bull official told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
"It is the biggest change in the regulations in the last 15, 20 years, so it was a mutual assessment of the possibilities. That is how we came to this result."
But before 2021, Verstappen is hoping to take the momentum of the currently stable regulations and turn it into a real chance of winning this year.
"We have a big goal," said Marko. "We want to be Lewis Hamilton's first challenger.
"You can all look forward to a Max who won't start in Melbourne with a knife between his teeth," Marko added.
"He knows that you don't win the world title in the first corner, or the first race, but with constant top positions."
However, he is also expecting Mercedes and Ferrari to still be strong, ruling out that a team like McLaren or Renault can join the party in 2020.
"No. The structures are too stuck. And an incredibly expensive and difficult year is awaiting us this year," said Marko.
"We have our current car, but then we also have to look at the 2021 car and prepare for the 18-inch tyres. It's a gigantic challenge.
"But I think maybe in 2021 it will be possible for a team to get a golden chance - like Brawn with the double diffuser," he added.