Only factor which could tempt Max Verstappen to Mercedes identified as pursuit continues

Henry Valantine
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

Sky Sports’ David Croft believes that, if Max Verstappen did make an unlikely move to Mercedes, it would be done on the knowledge of their 2026 power unit – which would be difficult to find out for anyone relative to their rivals.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has stated previously that Verstappen is the team’s primary target to try and replace Lewis Hamilton at the end of the season, but the reigning World Champion remains under contract at Red Bull until 2028.

Max Verstappen to Mercedes? A 2026 power unit difference might swing the balance

While Croft does not believe a move to the Silver Arrows is on the cards for Verstappen, the upcoming regulations reset in Formula 1 represents a chance for all the teams to bring themselves back to a level playing field with Red Bull come 2026.

Mercedes made the most of that switch when the turbo hybrid era began in 2014, at a time when some of their rivals built a powerful engine and others had reliability, Mercedes had both.

With Red Bull producing their first ever in-house engines in time for 2026 following their split from Honda, Sky’s lead commentator explained that if the Dutchman was to leave, it would be for a compelling performance-related reason.

“I don’t think Max Verstappen is going to go to Mercedes,” Croft told a recent episode of the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“I really don’t see Max leaving, unless, and here’s the caveat, unless he knows, and how he knows, I don’t know how anyone knows, that the Mercedes engine in 2026 is going to be like in Mercedes engine in 2014.

“If he knows that, then he’s going to want to go, but otherwise, why give up a winning thing?

“You know, Red Bull are a winning thing at the moment, and there are no guarantees from the outside that Mercedes will be that in 2026.”

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For Verstappen himself, he has maintained throughout the season he wants to remain in the fastest car possible – adding that he is not currently motivated by the desire to build a new project from scratch in the search for victories when he is currently at the top of the sport.

“Well, at the end of the day, these kinds of decisions are not made very easily and I’m very happy with where I am,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 when asked whether or not the departure of Adrian Newey might prompt him to leave Red Bull.

“I want to be in the fastest car. That’s what I always said with the team, that’s what we have at the moment, and that’s what we try and have also next year.

“I don’t necessarily have a desire to suddenly build up something new or whatever, because why would you want to leave when you are already in the best position and you think you can continue that for a long time?”

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