Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda confirmed that the team considered signing Max Verstappen last year. Verstappen inked a deal with Red Bull that runs until the end of 2020.
Now, the Silver Arrows ultimately committed Valtteri Bottas to a new deal. The Finn is expected to be retained alongside Lewis Hamilton again next year. However, both drivers are still to sign fresh terms with both contracts expiring this year.
Bottas’ mid-season slump in 2017 prompted Mercedes to assess their options elsewhere. They planned to pursue a deal that would have sent huge shockwaves through Formula 1.
“We actually talked to Verstappen, that’s for sure,” Lauda said.
“The conversations with Jos and Max Verstappen took place in the summer of 2017. Lewis Hamilton was at that time extended by one year and Valtteri Bottas was under pressure after some weaker performances.
“Helmut Marko was faster, Verstappen knew exactly what he had there and then he signed.”
However, Lauda confessed that Hamilton and Verstappen could have clashed in an ego war. But, he truly believes that the Dutchman could bring the best out of the four-time world champion.
“You always have to pay attention to whether both drivers fit together, everyone remembers Rosberg and Hamilton, what stories that brought about,” added Lauda.
“Hamilton remains the best driver, whether Vettel has a title or not, or if Verstappen is driving next to him, that does not matter. As a total package he is the best.
“Hamilton needs a team-mate who pushes him further, confirming him that he is and remains the fastest.
“Valtteri is clearly performing better this year than what he showed last year, he is showing incredible potential, so we are very satisfied with this combination.”
This weekend, the F1 paddock are in Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. The Mercedes team have dominated FP1 with Lewis Hamilton leading the time sheets.