Max Verstappen insists he will remain at Red Bull next season

Verstappen had been heavily linked with a move to Mercedes to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen insists he will stay at Red Bull next season (Darko Bandic/AP)
Max Verstappen insists he will stay at Red Bull next season (Darko Bandic/AP) (Darko Bandic/AP)

Max Verstappen has dealt a major blow to Mercedes’ hopes of capturing his signature after he insisted he will remain at Red Bull next season.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called Verstappen his primary target to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton, while the Austrian’s co-shareholder, and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Ola Kallenius, this week said Verstappen “would look good in silver”.

But asked directly if he will be staying put next year, Verstappen – under contract with Red Bull until 2028 – said: “OK, yes. And that’s what I’ve already said. We’re working on next year’s car. When you’re very focused on that it means that you’re also driving for the team.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff wants to sign Max Verstappen
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff wants to sign Max Verstappen (David Davies/PA)

“Of course people are talking, but it’s most important that we have a very competitive car for the future. It is very tight on track, but we are working as a team to try and improve. We want to be competitive again next year.”

Verstappen’s father, Jos, is here in Spielberg for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix – only his second appearance in the paddock since he claimed at the season-opening round in Bahrain that Red Bull would “explode” if scandal-hit team principal Christian Horner remained in his post.

But Verstappen continued: “I have a long contract with the team. I’m very happy where I’m at, and, like I said before, we’re already focusing on next year with things we can implement on the car. So, I guess that should say enough of where I’m driving next year.”

Italian Kimi Antonelli, who will turn 18 in August, is expected to take Hamilton’s seat if the Silver Arrows are unable to persuade Verstappen – who holds a 69-point championship lead ahead of the 11th round of 24 – to join them.

Verstappen has won seven races so far, but Red Bull’s supremacy is under threat having dominated Formula One for the past two-and-a-half years. McLaren’s Lando Norris is leading the fight and Mercedes are also enjoying a resurgence.

George Russell captured the team’s first pole position of the year in Canada earlier this month, while Hamilton also ended his season-long wait for a podium when he finished third in Spain last weekend.

Russell said: “For sure, it is a great thing that there is not just one dominant force out there because people want to see fights on track and the drivers going at it.

“There should be more than one car in a position to win. It is really exciting to see how this season pans out at the front and into next year, too, there could be four or five teams fighting for a win.”