Max Verstappen Could Be Replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, Admits Red Bull’s Christian Horner

Published 02/16/2021, 1:35 AM EST
SOCHI, RUSSIA: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks in a press conference during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Laurent Charniaux – Pool/Getty Images)


Earlier this month, Red Bull’s advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko, mentioned that the team’s lead driver, Max Verstappen, possesses a ‘performance clause’ in his contract.

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So, what is this contract clause that has been buzzing around the F1 community?

Well, apparently, it states that Max will have the freedom to leave Red Bull if the team falls back in performance. And in the Dutchman’s agreement, the clause lasts until the 2023 season.

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This could turn out to be a blessing for the Dutchman, considering Red Bull will be taking over Honda’s engine project for the 2022 season and beyond. Moreover, Red Bull will be building their own engines for the first time, and this leads to a wide array of uncertainty regarding their future goals in the sport.

However, Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, revealed that Max has enough trust over the team’s new project. Hence, he opined that neither Red Bull nor Max would be pushed to using the contractual clauses at any point in time.

Horner’s view over the performance clause in Max’s contract

Speaking to BBC, Horner revealed the prospects of Max leaving the Red Bull F1 team in the near future.

Max believes in the project and sees the investment Red Bull is making. He believes in the people within the team. So I am confident we won’t need to refer to any contractual clauses,” he said.

It will be ultimately down to us to deliver a competitive car. That’s [what] we want, and he wants. So in that respect, we are in the identical situation.”

MONTMELO, SPAIN: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock during previews ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Recently, FIA and F1 gave a verdict favorable to Red Bull, by confirming that the sport will move forward with freeze over engine development beyond 2022.

This meant that Red Bull can take over Honda’s project without the fear of losing substantial funding in occasional engine developments. Hence, it is safe to say that Red Bull will be an interesting watch over the next few years.

Should Lewis decide to stop, then Max Verstappen would be the driver: Horner

Lewis Hamilton, after a rather long wait, confirmed his stay with the defending champions, Mercedes. However, shockingly, the contract only lasts until the end of the 2021 season. Hence, this opens the door to multiple questions.

But what Horner‘s afraid of is the fact that Max could end up as Mercedes’ next target if Lewis chooses to retire.

Should Lewis decide to stop, then Max would naturally be the driver at the top of the list. But they also have George Russell and other drivers available to them,” he said.

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – JULY 28: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring  in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Max has been evolving as a driver over the past few years and is already into the category of the potential championship-winning candidate. However, the only obstruction lying between Max and his title hopes is Red Bull.

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The Dutchman will be keeping a close watch over the Austrian outfit’s growth from the start of the 2022 season. And if he feels that Red Bull’s downfall is imminent, well, then it is highly likely that Max will jump himself into the drivers’ pool, with Mercedes coming up as his first priority.

But have your say. Where do you think Max Verstappen will end up by the 2023 season; Red Bull or their rivals, Mercedes?

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Rohit Kumar

631 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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