Red Bull ‘would be surprised if Mercedes hadn’t’ called Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
A close-up shot of Max Verstappen's eye with the visor of his helmet open during F1 pre-season testing

Max Verstappen is debating 2025

Seeking a replacement for Lewis Hamilton, Helmut Marko says he “would be surprised” if Toto Wolff hadn’t already called Max Verstappen.

Mercedes are currently short a driver for next year’s championship after Lewis Hamilton announced he was quitting the team in favour of signing with Ferrari.

Wolff now has to decide if he wants to replace the seven-time World Champion with another title-winning driver or put George Russell in the team leader role.

Could Max Verstappen replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes?

Pundits are divided in their opinion with some former drivers calling on Wolff to do the “bold” thing and put rookie driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli in the car.

Others, such as Christian Danner, believe Verstappen should be the number one target and has urged the team boss to ignore all “legal or monetary obstacles” such as contracts.

But that’s exactly what Verstappen has, a long-term contract with Red Bull that runs through to the end of the 2028 season.

Marko reckons that won’t have stopped Wolff from making the call, but he’s not worried about losing his triple World Champion.

“I would be surprised if they hadn’t,” he told Krone Zeitung. “But Max is a very loyal driver.” recommends

Lewis Hamilton’s shock move leaves Mercedes with incredibly daunting decision

Mercedes warned it could get ‘tetchy’ during Lewis Hamilton’s ‘farewell tour’

Like the rest of the paddock, the Red Bull motorsport advisor is interested to see how Hamilton’s final season with Mercedes plays out.

Having won six of his seven World titles with the Brackley squad, he cannot see Mercedes ignoring Hamilton’s potential title bid.

But that would mean keeping him in the loop through to the very end.

“Lewis is an exceptional driver,” Marko said. “If they give him a car that is capable of winning [races] or even a World Championship, they will have to involve him until the end – and so just jump over their shadow.”

Wolff has already weighed in on the topic of Hamilton being frozen out as the season progresses and his Ferrari move draws ever closer.

“I think what I’ve always tried to do as a team principal, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent and fair – and nothing’s going to change in that respect in 2024,” the Austrian told the media, including

“We owe it to our principles and our racing intent, how we go about [racing], and we will respect that.

“And I will [ensure] that the drivers will respect that.

“In terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at.

“The regulations stay pretty much the same and when it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information.”

Read next: Fernando Alonso’s ’19 drivers think’ prediction draws Helmut Marko’s attention