Verstappen’s future at Red Bull in question amid Mercedes interest

Max Verstappen

21st April 2024 – (Shanghai) Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has openly speculated on the potential for Red Bull’s star driver, Max Verstappen, to make a dramatic switch to his team, despite the Dutchman currently racing in what many consider the sport’s leading car.

The rumour mill has been fuelled by recent unrest within Red Bull, following allegations of misconduct against their team principal, Christian Horner. Although Horner was cleared of these allegations, whispers of internal discord persist, adding layers of intrigue to Verstappen’s future.

This speculation comes at a time when Mercedes faces the impending departure of Lewis Hamilton, who is set to join Ferrari in 2025. With a vacancy to fill, Wolff’s comments after the Chinese Grand Prix have stirred discussions in the F1 community. “There are so many factors that play a role for a driver joining,” Wolff said, hinting that the allure of the fastest car might not be the sole determinant for a driver of Verstappen’s calibre. “Maybe there is some more depth to some people, that consider other factors too. I think Max has that.”

Verstappen, a triple world champion and only 26 years old, has been in formidable form, clinching his fourth win in five races this season at Shanghai. His dominance is underscored by Red Bull’s recent performance, with the team winning 21 of 22 races last season, showcasing what many describe as the most dominant car in the history of the sport.

However, Wolff’s reflections hint at a broader vision for Mercedes post-2025 when new regulations in chassis and engine design are set to level the playing field. “If I was Max, I would stay at Red Bull in 2025, but I’m not Max,” Wolff mused, suggesting that strategic considerations for future seasons could sway Verstappen’s decision.

In response, Red Bull’s Horner was dismissive of Wolff’s overtures, emphasising Verstappen’s commitment to Red Bull until the end of 2028 and suggesting that Wolff might have other priorities to focus on. “I don’t think Toto’s problems are his drivers,” Horner remarked, underscoring a potential rift or rivalry between the two team leaders.