Max Verstappen facing clear choice with Mercedes ‘pushing strongly’ amid F1 2025 rumours

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen looks on from the Red Bull garage with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Could Max Verstappen swap Red Bull for Mercedes?

Toto Wolff is “pushing very strongly” to sign Max Verstappen from Red Bull for the F1 2025 season, with the Mercedes boss keen on a “signature signing” after the team’s recent on-track woes.

That is the claim of FIA press conference host Tom Clarkson, who believes Mercedes is Verstappen’s “only option” if he decides to leave Red Bull at the end of 2024.

Max Verstappen to Mercedes? Toto Wolff keen on ‘statement’ signing

Despite holding a contract until the end of the 2028 season – and winning 47 of the last 70 races since the start of 2021 – Verstappen’s Red Bull future has been plunged into uncertainty in recent weeks amid the off-track dramas engulfing the team.

Verstappen’s father Jos publicly called for Christian Horner to leave the team after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, accusing the long-serving team principal of “playing the victim when he is the one causing the problems” after an investigation into Horner’s conduct was dismissed.

Mercedes, who won a record eight Constructors’ titles from the beginning of F1’s V6 hybrid era in 2014, are on the lookout for a new team-mate for George Russell for 2025 following Lewis Hamilton’s shock switch to Ferrari.

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Max Verstappen to Mercedes? Reasons for and against leaving Red Bull in F1 2025

And with Fernando Alonso signed up with Aston Martin until at least the end of 2026, Clarkson sees Mercedes as Verstappen’s only alternative with Wolff pushing hard to sign the reigning World Champion.

Appearing on the F1 Nation podcast, Clarkson said: “His only option now is to go to Mercedes, isn’t it?

“Now that Fernando is locked in at Aston Martin, Max is either going to stay at Red Bull or he’s going to go to Mercedes.

“In Japan, I was told by several people that Toto Wolff is pursuing Max very strongly.

“He needs a signature signing, because obviously the last three years haven’t gone very well for the team and it would be a real statement of intent if he got Max Verstappen.

“And it was even mentioned to me that he’s said to Max, ‘Bring Helmut Marko with you, if that’s what it requires’, so a bit of an Austrian superteam at the top of Mercedes.

“But is that going to happen? Is he going to sacrifice winning another World Championship in 2025 with Red Bull? I find that really hard to believe.

“I now see a bit a little bit of static in the driver market. I see Max staying, I see Checo staying, we see Fernando Alonso staying.”

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, the 17-year-old Italian sensation, has long been regarded as Mercedes’ preferred choice for 2025, but multiple reports from Italy on Friday claimed Carlos Sainz was on the verge of agreeing a deal to replace Hamilton.

With F2 driver Antonelli poised to begin an extensive F1 test program ahead of turning 18 later this year, Clarkson speculated that the teenager could race for Williams from mid-2024 ahead of being promoted to Mercedes next season.

Speaking before the rumours of a Sainz deal surfaced, he said: “The only question mark is what happens alongside George Russell.

“Is that going to be Carlos Sainz? Is that going to be Kimi Antonelli, who is testing for Mercedes at the Red Bull Ring in a couple of weeks’ time?

“But equally, is Toto Wolff going to want to give Antonelli a little bit of mileage? He turns 18 at the end of August and 18 is the magic number in Formula 1 now because you can’t race younger than that.

“So could we see Antonelli do the second half of the season at Williams before then getting plugged into the Mercedes next year? Who knows? But now it’s all about Mercedes.”

Read next: How Lewis Hamilton is already influencing Ferrari ahead of F1 2025 move