‘If you put Max in a Ferrari’ – Helmut Marko reveals Max Verstappen’s main requirement in blow to Mercedes

Oliver Harden
A side-profile shot of Max Verstappen's helmet with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Max Verstappen to Mercedes? Stranger things have happened - like Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari

Helmut Marko has insisted Max Verstappen’s main requirement is to have the “best car” amid persistent rumours that he could swap Red Bull for Mercedes in F1 2025.

Verstappen has enjoyed a fine start to his latest title defence in F1 2024, winning four of the first five races to establish a healthy lead at the top of the Drivers’ standings.

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With three one-two finishes for Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez already in the books, Red Bull’s performance has remained strong despite the off-track dramas currently engulfing the team, which have raised doubts over the three-time World Champion’s future.

Although Verstappen’s contract is due to run until the end of the 2028 season, the 26-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes over recent weeks.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, has been open about his pursuit of Verstappen for F1 2025, admitting last month that he would “love” to sign him.

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However, he conceded that addressing Mercedes’ woes with the W15 car is the team’s priority, with Verstappen likely to be swayed by results.

Wolff said: “I’d love to have him, but first we need to sort out our car.

“First, we owe it to George [Russell] and Lewis to improve the car and give them equipment that is good before dreaming about the future next year.

“Like I said before, a driver will always try to be in the fastest possible car. That gives you the best chances of winning races and championships and this is where Max is at the moment.

“But Max, Jos and Max and Raymond [Vermeulen, Verstappen’s manager] are also people who are very straight, sometimes uncomfortably straight, and I think that’s something they will make up their mind [on].

“But I think fundamentally a racing driver is calibrated to be in the best car.”

“Let’s word it like this: I think this is a decision that Max needs to take but there is no team up and down the grid that wouldn’t do handstands to have him in the car.”

Speaking to Austrian publication OE24, long-serving Red Bull adviser Marko has insisted Verstappen is only motivated by having the fastest car.

He said: “He always wants to be in the fastest car. And Max in the Red Bull? That’s an unbeatable combination.

“But if you put the Max in a Ferrari, things would look different. The 20 seconds that he is ahead of Checo [Perez] corresponds to his driving superiority.

“Max will drive where he has the best car and he has that at Red Bull.

“Nothing else is on the horizon.”

Marko’s comments come after Verstappen himself insisted a “calm and peaceful environment” is essential to his Red Bull future after a turbulent few months for the reigning Constructors’ Champions.

He told Dutch outlet De Telegraaf: “What is very important for me is that it is calm in the team. That everyone focuses on the car and performance.

“I also feel now that it is calmer than at the beginning of the season.

“After my first world title in 2021, I signed a long deal with Red Bull for a reason.

“All I want is a calm and peaceful environment. As long as I am happy with the team, there is no reason to leave.”

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