Max Verstappen to Mercedes? Major update issued on Lewis Hamilton replacement search

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen with a prominent Mercedes badge alongside him.

Could the current uncertainty at Red Bull lure Max Verstappen to Mercedes?

Despite the swirling speculation that Max Verstappen could make a shock move from Red Bull to Mercedes, leading F1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto claims no serious talks with potential Lewis Hamilton replacements have yet been held.

Mercedes face a huge decision as they search for the right driver to fill the Hamilton-shaped void, the seven-time World Champion into his final Mercedes season ahead of a 2025 move to Ferrari.

Mercedes yet to start serious Lewis Hamilton replacement talks

A host of drivers have been linked with the vacancy, including current Aston Martin racer Fernando Alonso, Mercedes Junior Team hot prospect Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, the driver who Hamilton will replace.

But perhaps the most surprising name linked is Red Bull’s dominant three-time World Champion Verstappen, with it suggested that the current unrest at Red Bull could open the door for Mercedes to lure the Dutchman away.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko recently stayed tight-lipped on the suggestion that Verstappen’s father Jos had started talks with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, but Barretto, mentioning all names above and further potential Mercedes options, claimed concrete talks with any driver are yet to take place.

‘If Mercedes decide it would be best not to promote Antonelli next season, they have a wealth of options available to them,’ Barretto wrote in a piece for the Formula 1 website. ‘Fernando Alonso seems to be a strong option, the double World Champion having long-craved race-winning machinery to add to his tally of 32 victories.

‘His signing would be box office for Mercedes, replacing one World Champion with another. At 42-years-old, he’s a short-term option – but that would play neatly into Mercedes’ plan if they want to integrate Antonelli in the near future.

‘The likes of Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon (and Alex Albon if he can be convinced to exit his Williams contract early) are all potential options for Mercedes in 2025 – but it is believed that serious talks with that quintet or indeed anyone else have yet to get off the ground. That doesn’t rule any of them out, though, given Mercedes are taking it slow and have not accelerated their search just yet.

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‘And then there is the wildcard that is Verstappen. The Dutchman has a contract with Red Bull until the end of 2028 – but like all contracts, there’s usually a way of exiting if all parties agree. Speculation was rife in Bahrain that a move to Mercedes in the future could be on the cards.

‘When Wolff was asked about it, he poured cold water on the idea of them linking up. But he also didn’t rule it out.’

Verstappen began his F1 2024 campaign in typically dominant fashion, leading home a comfortable Red Bull one-two in Bahrain as he now sets about securing similar success in Saudi Arabia.

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