Martin Brundle’s double warning to Max Verstappen over major Mercedes move

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Martin Brundle

Max Verstappen has been warned about jumping to Mercedes in 2026

Martin Brundle has warned Max Verstappen against leaving Red Bull, not only before 2025 when a fifth title could await him, but also ’26 as Red Bull Powertrains is looking “impressive”.

Verstappen is, at least according to Toto Wolff, contemplating his future and whether or not he wants to see out his Red Bull contract, which runs through to the end of the 2028 championship.

‘If there are cards to be played, do you want to play them?’

Wolff is hoping that if or when the time comes that Verstappen does quit Red Bull, he’ll join him in Brackley. But he doesn’t see that happening before 2026.

Waiting on the Dutchman’s “thinking” before signing Lewis Hamilton’s replacement, Wolff has stated at least twice that if he were Verstappen, he’d continue with Red Bull next season as they have the best package.

After that, “other factors” should come into play.

He added: “I think that Max knows motor racing better than anyone, he will take decisions that he feels are good for him. I think a few factors play a role.”

One of those factors would be the all-new power unit regulations that Formula 1 will adopt in two years.

The last time Formula 1 introduced new engines it was Mercedes who came to the fore, winning seven championship doubles on the trot from 2014 to 2020. It wasn’t until Verstappen wrestled the title away from Hamilton in 2021 that their run was curtailed.

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Brundle though, has warned Verstappen against being swayed by Mercedes’ past engine success as he reckons the Red Bull Powertrain project is looking very “impressive”.

“I think it might be the power unit that bothers Max in terms of the unknown,” he told Sky Sports. “But I’ve been around the Red Bull Powertrain. Oh, my goodness, what an impressive setup that is.

“So I think it’s going to be quite interesting. If there are cards to be played in terms of exiting anywhere how quickly do they have to be played and do you want to play them indeed?”

The former F1 driver also reiterated that Adrian Newey’s departure, which was announced last week, does is not one of the possible exit cards in Verstappen’s deck.

There is, however, said to be one that included Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko with reports claiming if Verstappen wants out, he’ll walk away himself in order to open the door.

Brundle said: “I asked Christian has Max got a key man clause, an exit clause, that mentions Adrian and he specifically said no.

“If Max has got an exit clause, I would think he’s got to use it quite quickly, although they could use it as a lever to go or stay next year.

“The cars are not going change a whole lot next year so walking away from a Red Bull at the moment with the momentum, Max probably got this year’s and next year’s championship relatively easily available to him.

“So we’ll have to wait and see.”

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