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Verstappen’s Future: Red Bull’s Concern Over Mercedes?

15/02/2024

Amid contract security, Red Bull faces the speculative risk of Max Verstappen’s potential move to Mercedes F1.

Should Red Bull be concerned about losing Max Verstappen to Mercedes F1 in the medium term?

On paper, no: the Dutch driver is under contract until the end of 2028, currently has the best car and team, and is the clear favorite to win a 4th title in 2024… and likely a 5th in 2025 if the RB20 is successful again.

Apart from seeking a new challenge, Verstappen is not likely to rationally seek a departure from Red Bull.

Dr. Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s Austrian consultant in F1, knows, however, that Toto Wolff will at some point initiate a “charm offensive” to try to convince his driver to replace Lewis Hamilton.

“It’s actually his job as a team leader. He must do everything he can to have the best drivers.”

Verstappen likely has an exit clause similar to Hamilton in his current contract, but Marko believes it’s highly unlikely the Dutchman will be tempted to jump ship.

“No. He has a good memory. Too much has happened in the past. I remember Silverstone 2021 and the turmoil at the Abu Dhabi finale. It runs too deep.”

Marko, however, recalls Wolff’s recent statement about being so close to Hamilton that not even a piece of paper could pass between them.

“Apparently, it was a Ferrari contract that did it,” he laughed.

Asked what he would do if Verstappen decided to replace Hamilton at Mercedes, Marko completely dismissed the scenario, responding, “I would rule that out.”

Christian Danner, former F1 driver and TV consultant, thinks that if Wolff’s financial offer and Mercedes’ competitiveness are right, anything is possible.

“In Formula 1 for 40 years, I’ve learned that anything is always possible. I remember Jenson Button happily signing two contracts at the same time. You can terminate any contract. And if the money and the car are right, all past issues become history.”

Danner also fears that the Christian Horner saga could play a role if it drags on too long. Rumors suggest the Verstappen camp wants the team director gone.

“If Horner has to leave, Adrian Newey might as well. It’s a huge problem for Red Bull because success is always a result of stability. And when people like that split, it throws everyone into disarray. Even Verstappen would then wonder if he’s still in the right team. Wolff could take advantage of the situation if it’s not handled properly. In this world, there is no mercy.”

Verstappen’s Future: Red Bull’s Concern Over Mercedes?. Verstappen’s Future: Red Bull’s Concern Over Mercedes?

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