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Mercedes CEO eyes Max Verstappen for 'silver' future

Mercedes CEO eyes Max Verstappen for 'silver' future
© Reuters
Mercedes CEO and chairman Ola Kallenius has entered the fray of the 2025 Formula 1 'silly season' by directly courting triple world champion Max Verstappen.

Mercedes CEO and chairman Ola Kallenius has entered the fray of the 2025 Formula 1 'silly season' by directly courting triple world champion Max Verstappen.

While the path seems clear for 17-year-old Kimi Antonelli to take over Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton's current race seat, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has yet to make any final decisions. He has subtly suggested he is watching for an opportunity as Red Bull's team tensions and fading supremacy could potentially push Verstappen towards sudden availability.

Despite these circumstances, Verstappen secured a win at Sunday's Spanish GP starting from pole position in his Red Bull car. "Max was not in the fastest car today, that was clear," former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher commented to Sky Deutschland on Sunday. "But he proved that he is the best driver."

"His market value has definitely increased today. He didn't have the fastest car and yet he still wins."

Therefore, both Wolff and Mercedes heavyweight Kallenius view Verstappen, aged 26, as the perfect candidate to replace seven-time world champion Hamilton.

"The best drivers want to sit in the best cars and our job is to put together the best package," stated Kallenius on Sunday.

For now, it seems unlikely Verstappen will switch teams in 2025, although Wolff is leaving the possibility technically open. "There are simply no conversations taking place at the moment," Wolff maintained. "We have to look at ourselves first and improve our car."

"But no decision has been made yet about the new driver. As I have already indicated, we want to postpone this decision for as long as possible. Because who knows what will happen next?"

Kallenius sees the upcoming 2026 regulations, coupled with Mercedes' historical knack for delivering a competitive new power unit instantly, as a prime opportunity for Verstappen.

"The cards are being reshuffled. Silver would also suit Max well," he quipped.

Responding to Kallenius' remarks, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said, "They should concentrate on their own drivers rather than on ours."

"We know the situation surrounding Max. He's happy in the team, he's won 70 percent of the races this year, and is leading the world championship. Sometimes, people simply try to unbalance the team with statements like that."

Ralf Schumacher then noted, "You can see how Max has to fight now, and that's why Horner has to put up with these questions. A lot has changed in the team, he has lost important personnel. He now needs to work hard to reposition Red Bull Racing again."

Regarding a possible move to Mercedes for Verstappen, Schumacher speculated, "I don't think it will happen next year, but I could very, very well imagine it in 2026. And if things continue like this, then maybe next year."

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