Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has hinted that Max Verstappen could leave RBR before the term of his contract is completed if Honda quits F1 at the end of 2021.
Earlier this month, Verstappen committed to Red Bull Racing until the end of 2023, a move that should incite Honda to also extend its partnership with the Milton Keynes-based outfit beyond next year according to Marko.
But in an interview with Germany's Motorsport-Magazin, Marko alluded to a potential exit clause in Verstappen's contract with Red Bull that could allow the Dutchman to become a free agent at the end of 2021 if ever Honda decides in twelve months' time to leave F1.
"In principle, this contract is fixed. With a normal course everything is arranged," said a coy Marko, describing Verstappen's deal.
"We now have a contract with Honda until 2021. And a Formula 1 car without an engine, that will of course be a difficult story," added the 76-year-old.
"So it's clear that we need a competitive engine [to keep Verstappen]."
However, Marko also expressed his confidence in the future, even in light of Formula 1's regulation overhaul from 2021.
The Austrian is therefore convinced that Red Bull will supply Verstappen with a package worthy of his massive talent, in which case the exit clause won't matter.
"We are especially happy, this [Verstappen's contract] gives us stability and gives the entire team an incredible amount of motivation," he said.
"It is our big goal for Max, who also started with us in Formula 1, to become the youngest ever F1 world champion."