Verstappen F1 Mercedes

Verstappen’s Future: Red Bull Exit for Mercedes?


Amid speculation about Max Verstappen leaving Red Bull, questions arise. Will he join Mercedes or opt for Aston Martin, challenging F1 dynamics and his long-term commitment to Red Bull?

Will Max Verstappen truly exit his contract with Red Bull in Formula 1, and if so, will he join Mercedes or make an unexpected switch to Aston Martin? Two years into his agreement, after clinching three titles with a fourth seemingly on the horizon, the likelihood of Verstappen fulfilling the remaining four years appears slim.

Christian Horner’s remarks are quite telling. On the Bahrain race day, he was adamant Verstappen wouldn’t leave.

Asked whether Verstappen would see out his contract, he stated, “I’m sure he will. He’s got a great team around him. He has a lot of trust in this team. We’ve achieved a great deal together. He is committed to sticking to the agreement until 2028.”

Yet, merely a week later in Jeddah, despite insisting Verstappen had no reason to depart, signs indicated a mood shift.

“One can never say never,” he remarked. “If a driver doesn’t want to be somewhere, they’ll move, but as a team, I see no reason why anyone would want to leave.”

Horner Embraces F1’s Natural Cycle

Pressed further, he added: “Like anything in life, you can’t force someone to stay just because of a piece of paper. If someone doesn’t want to be part of this team, then we won’t hold them against their will. This applies whether it’s a machine operator, a designer, or someone in a support role.”

The Horner/Marko situation is complex, with many forces at play. No one knows who will have the superior engine in 2026, but it’s clear the challenge is much tougher for newcomers RBP/Ford and Audi than for the established manufacturers.

In other words, there’s a major reset coming, and it’s not certain that Red Bull will remain the force it is now, making a move potentially less daunting.

Additionally, there’s a natural cycle in F1 where top drivers make their name and achieve initial major successes with their nurturing team before leaving the nest for new pastures. It may sound clichéd, but all seek new challenges, the opportunity to work with different people in a new environment, and to prove they can succeed elsewhere.

Including his stint at Toro Rosso, Verstappen is now in his tenth season, and completing his contract would take him to 14 years, much longer than the relationships outlined above.

Verstappen Eyes Mercedes Move Next

The Verstappen of 2024 is vastly different from the teenager who began with Toro Rosso in 2015. Even in the two years since his long-term contractual commitment, he has grown further and settled into his role as a world champion figurehead, unafraid to voice his opinion on his dislike for the long schedule or the entertainment elements F1 is introducing.

He’s also made it clear he doesn’t plan to stay for another 10 years, with other interests he wishes to pursue.

With Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes, the Dutchman becomes the obvious alternative to Red Bull. Toto Wolff made a significant effort in 2014, a year when Verstappen shone in European F3 races that supported DTM events, right under the nose of the Stuttgart-based team. However, Wolff couldn’t offer him an immediate F1 seat for 2015. Red Bull could, and that’s the direction Verstappen chose.
A decade later, it seems time for Verstappen to finally make the move to Mercedes. There’s a logical draw to joining a team that has been dominant for so long and is expected to have a strong package for 2026.

Just a few weeks ago, it seemed inconceivable that he would leave the team dominating the ground effect era and potentially hand over a championship-winning car to someone else.
However, the Christian Horner saga has turned the F1 world on its head, shedding light on internal tensions, making a Verstappen move to Mercedes seem far from improbable.

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