Max Verstappen to Mercedes? Biggest hint yet as Jos Verstappen admits F1 2026 concern

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Jos Verstappen has admitted to a consideration Max Verstappen has in pondering his future with Red Bull.

Jos Verstappen has offered a clear hint that Max Verstappen may be evaluating a future somewhere away from Red Bull amid persistent rumours of a move to Mercedes.

The three-time World Champion, searching for a fourth consecutive title in F1 2024, is under contract with Red Bull until the end of 2028, but the Dutch driver’s future with the team looks anything but certain.

Jos Verstappen drops huge hint on Max Verstappen’s F1 future

The first clear signs of discontent came from Verstappen earlier this season when it appeared as though team advisor Helmut Marko suggested he might himself be suspended following the dismissal of Red Bull GmbH’s investigation into Christian Horner.

Verstappen made it clear that his ongoing participation in F1 with Red Bull would be in doubt if Marko was not in his usual position, with a suspension never materialising for Marko.

Capitalising on the uncertainty, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has outlined his desire to tempt Verstappen into a seat with his team as the Brackley-based squad seek a worthy replacement for Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

PlanetF1.com recommends

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

Follow PlanetF1.com’s WhatsApp channel for all the F1 breaking news!

While Verstappen hasn’t come forward to express a desire to look elsewhere, given that the conversation surrounding his team has now focused back on the car and sporting matters, his father Jos has offered the clearest hint yet that there are options to be weighed up.

Speaking to RaceXpress during the Rally de Wallonie, Verstappen Sr said considerations have to be made for 2026 when the chassis and power unit regulations change F1 entirely.

“I think everyone wants him, only I think Max is right for the moment,” Verstappen said, as quoted by RacingNews365.nl.

“He has a fast car, but we also have to look further to 2026, so we are letting everything come to us at the moment. We stay very calm and see what will happen.”

Red Bull lose their Honda power unit supply deal at the conclusion of F1 2025 and will swap to their own manufacturing of Ford-partnered Red Bull Powertrains, meaning a huge question mark over their immediate competitiveness.

With no long-term experience in building engines, Christian Horner has admitted existing manufacturers like Ferrari (and Mercedes – editor) have a significant leg-up on Red Bull, but stressed that their own project is currently hitting all of its engineering and performance targets.

Mercedes nailed the last significant power unit regulations change in 2014, which saw the sport switch from naturally aspirated V8s to hybrid V6s – the new regulations will retain the 1.6-litre turbo architecture, but increase electrification to a 50-50 ratio split alongside the internal combustion engine.

With Verstappen dominating the current formula, his father was full of pride to see how successful he has become.

“It’s going insanely well. It’s unbelievable how strong he is for the day,” he said.

“Also during the race, you just notice that he has everything under control and keeps an eye on everything. During qualifying he is there, it is just beautiful to see him so busy.”

Along with the current championship leader, Red Bull are also having to worry about the future of Adrian Newey as the chief technical officer has been at the centre of reports suggesting he is about to leave the team – a significant blow for Milton Keynes if it does come to pass.

“Normally I’m not going to say anything about that…” Verstappen Sr said of the situation.

“Whatever should I say about it? I don’t know anything about it. Basically, there is a deal between him and Red Bull and the rest we’ll see. I can’t say anything about that. We all know what he has performed and how good he is.”

While Horner has said there is “no ambiguity” about where Verstappen will be racing in 2025, Toto Wolff has suggested factors other than having the “quickest car” could play a part in Verstappen choosing to eventually leave his current team.

“There are so many factors that play a role for a driver joining,” Wolff said in Shanghai.

“Clearly when you look at it from the most rational point of view, you can say: ‘That’s the quickest car in the hands of the quickest driver’.

“But I don’t think this is the only reason you stay where you are.

“I think, for simple minds, that might be the only reason why you stay in a car and that’s it but maybe there are more depths for some people that consider other factors too. I think that Max has that.

“In that respect, are we able to convince him? I don’t think it’s a matter of convincing.

“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, but he’s the one that is going to trigger some more domino stones to fall in afterward. Everybody is waiting for what he’s going to do.”

Read next: Toto Wolff updates on 2026 Mercedes power unit plans with ‘moonshot project’ fears revealed