Gerhard Berger’s ‘Max Verstappen knows’ claim amidst continued Mercedes rumours

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in front of the Formula 1 logo at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Gerhard Berger can’t see Max Verstappen moving to Mercedes any time soon as he “knows” even his driving strength probably won’t make a difference.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t consider them down the line if Red Bull start to “weaken”.

Max Verstappen is ‘driven by performance’ but…

Losing Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari, Toto Wolff has gone on a charm offensive to court triple World Champion Verstappen, although even he reckons now is not the time for the Red Bull driver to bid farewell to Milton Keynes.

Instead, Wolff has spoken of “2026” when Formula 1 introduces new cars and a new engine formula. The last time the latter was changed, Mercedes went on a seven-year championship-double romp.

However, even with his public courting of Verstappen, the Dutchman has said time and time again he wants to stay at Red Bull with his most recent comments coming in the wake of Sergio Perez’s new two-year contract where Verstappen spoke of building on their success as team-mates “into the next two years”.

Former F1 driver Berger reckons while there may come a time Verstappen considers his options, he’s driven by performance and today that is Red Bull.

“Max is certainly currently in a phase of strong consideration as to what he will do without his mentor Helmut Marko and technical guru Adrian Newey,” the 64-year-old told Bild am Sonntag.

“Red Bull is certainly the best solution at the moment, but Max will go for a better solution as soon as an opportunity arises. If he notices that his car is starting to weaken and he sees advantages elsewhere, he will take that opportunity. He is driven by performance.

“Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is trying to get him, but Max knows that in the current situation, his driving strength would probably not be enough to get the Mercedes back on the road to victory,” he said.

As such he thinks there is “less” chance of Verstappen swapping Red Bull for Mercedes than there is of him staying put.

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But there is light at the end of the Mercedes tunnel according to the former F1 driver.

After a race weekend in which Mercedes bagged their first Grand Prix podium of this campaign with George Russell P3, Berger believes Wolff will “get” Mercedes out of the hole.

“It’s certainly not the fault of the two drivers Russell and Hamilton, they are excellent,” he said. “The car is simply not fast enough, so it can only be a technical issue. This has continued into the third season.

“But knowing Toto Wolff’s ambition, he will get out of this dead end.”

Berger says one surefire way to do just that, and sign Verstappen, would be to bring Adrian Newey on board with the design guru set to leave Red Bull in the first quarter of next season.

“It’s a must for every team to want to get him. If Newey were to choose Mercedes, Verstappen would be there in no time,” he said.

“Newey is an absolute genius – where he is, there is success. He has proven that over the last 25 years.”

But given that Newey has been widely rumoured to be heading to Ferrari, one of Wolff and Mercedes’ biggest threats next season could be the Hamilton-Newey package.

“But at the moment it looks like Newey will end up at Ferrari. If that happens, and I’m assuming it will, a new era of success could begin with team boss Vasseur, Newey, Leclerc and Hamilton. In my opinion, this combination would be difficult for the others to beat.”

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