Max Verstappen to Mercedes quashed in ‘not going to leave’ Red Bull verdict

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen next to Red Bull and Mercedes badges.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Seven-time F1 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya is willing to “bet money” that Max Verstappen stays at Red Bull amid Mercedes speculation, while he played down the significance of F1 2026 in that regard.

Verstappen is under contract at Red Bull until the end of 2028, though that has not stopped Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff from making his desire to lure the reigning three-time World Champion over to Brackley public.

Juan Pablo Montoya says Max Verstappen stays at Red Bull

While Verstappen and Red Bull are the dominant force of Formula 1, the F1 2026 campaign has been highlighted as the reset which could influence Verstappen’s future, with new-look cars and power units set to be introduced from that season.

Mercedes has spoken confidently about their 2026 PU, as Red Bull prepare to become a power unit manufacturer in their own right for the first time from 2026, in partnership with Ford.

However, Montoya thinks the chances of Red Bull dropping the ball on the F1 2026 PU are “very slim”, as he ruled out the idea of Verstappen moving on.

“That’s not going to happen. Max is not going to leave. I bet money with you that he will be back in the Red Bull next season,” Montoya told Formule1.nl.

“Believe me, as a driver you never voluntarily step out of a winning car. Sure, you have new engine regulations in Formula 1 from 2026 and you’ll have to deal with Red Bull Powertrains instead of Honda, but the chances of him getting a better package elsewhere and Red Bull opting for a fatally flawed approach are very slim.

“In other words, if I were Max, I wouldn’t go anywhere. If the choice was between racing in a Mercedes or a Red Bull for the next two seasons, you don’t have to think long about that, do you? Mercedes has a good engine, but not a good car.”

F1 2025 grid continues to take shape

👉 Carlos Sainz Williams contract length revealed with key break clause – report

👉 F1 2025 driver line-up: Who is already confirmed for the 2025 grid?

Both Wolff and Mercedes technical director James Allison have spoken very positively about their F1 2026 efforts in recent times, with Mercedes driver George Russell confirming that “the team are feeling really confident for this era”.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com, Russell said: “I mean ordinarily 2026 seems like a long time away but in the world of Formula 1 it’s going to be here tomorrow and the team are feeling really confident for this era.

“I think, you know, the experiences that the team have had, the success in 2014 with the new powertrain, and then obviously the time in Formula E, the work that was done with the Hypercar.

“There are a lot of individuals within HPP [High Performance Powertrains] who have got so much experience with this future technology. So I think that leaves us in a really great place to have a great engine.

“And the work Petronas are doing on the fuel as well is looking really strong. So on the engine side, I think we’re feeling very confident for that era.”

Verstappen has put himself in a strong position to claim his fourth World Championship in a row, his F1 2024 Drivers’ standings lead coming in at 56 points over Charles Leclerc with nine rounds complete.

Read next: Max Verstappen reveals F1 drivers he would ‘bet a dinner’ on becoming World Champion