June 20, 2024
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen’s future appears to be up in the air, but the reigning world champion has been sent a warning as he weighs up whether to leave Red Bull at the end of the season

Max Verstappen has been warned that Mercedes is his only option for a drive next season if he leaves Red Bull.
Despite winning three successive world championships, his future with the Austrian team is increasingly in doubt. The investigation into allegations of inapporpriate behaviour against Christian Horner cleared the team principal.

But a power struggle erupted between Horner and adviser Helmut Marko, who is a close ally of Verstappen. Red Bull have also been rocked by the departure of technical guru Adrian Newey, who designed Verstappen’s title-winning cars.

That turmoil has led to suggestions that the reigning champion could rip up his contract and leave the team at the end of the season. But former F1 star Ralf Schumacher believes the Dutchman needs to tread carefully.

Currently the only top seat available for next year is at Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton leaving for Ferrari. The Silver Arrows have struggled in recent seasons and Schumacher is unsure it would be the right fit.

“I think the departures will make him look at the situation a little more calmly. There is nothing worse than too many departures in Formula 1. As for Max Verstappen, as I said, he is still lucky for next year,” he told Sky Germany.

“For next year Mercedes is the only option for Max. Ferrari is full. Max is not stressed. If he decides to leave the team in 2026, anything is possible. At Mercedes, Toto Wolff is not only the team principal but also the CEO.

“Anyone would hold any door open for Max. But I’d rather see him at Red Bull unless the whole thing explodes.”

George Russell is the only driver contracted to Mercedes for next season, with team boss Toto Wolff pushing hard to sign Verstappen. Wolff has denied that a meeting took place this week with the Dutchman though did leave the door open to future talks.

“There’s always plenty of meetings. I can’t really say about the second driver. I think we’ve talked about the possibilities. I want to be fair to these guys and not make it look like we are playing chess with humans, because we are not doing that,” he said after the Miami GP.

“I think we want to take our time, see where Max’s thinking goes, and at the same time, monitor the other drivers. Carlos [Sainz] was very strong in Miami again and that’s why we are a little bit on an observation mode at the moment.”

“As I said before, if I was him, I wouldn’t leave, at least for 2025. But it’s all in his… he’s the leading the driver, he’s the top guy at the moment and that’s why it’s for him to take those decisions.

“There may not be any decisions to take, maybe everything continues like it is, but that is then also guidance for us.”

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