Formula One

Marko fully expects Mercedes to contact Verstappen

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Helmut Marko says he “would be surprised” if Mercedes doesn’t contact Max Verstappen given the current turmoil surrounding Red Bull Racing.

The controversy embroiling Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner is put a dark cloud, not only over the latter’s future but also over the entire team.

Following an internal investigation ordered by Red Bull GmbH, Horner was cleared last week of allegations of misconduct involving a female employee of the team.

But the developments that subsequently unfolded in Bahrain, with a potentially incriminating ‘dossier’ leaked to senior F1 personnel followed by Jos Verstappen’s public call for Horner to be removed from the team, continue to project a dark light on the Briton’s prospects.

Reports suggest that several high-profile figures at Red Bull Racing, such as CTO Adrian Newey and perhaps Max Verstappen himself, have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to leave the team if Horner is no longer at the helm.

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This could create – or indeed perhaps already has – a massive opportunity for Mercedes to move in and pluck Verstappen from the bull pen and hand him in due time the vacant seat of Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

Asked in Bahrain last weekend if he expects Mercedes to contact Verstappen, Marko told Austria’s Krone Zeitung: “I would be surprised if they hadn’t!

“But Max is a very loyal driver.”

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Adding fuel to that explosive fire, Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff was seen in conversation with Jos Verstappen after Saturday’s race. It is also rumored that the two had dinner together on Friday in Bahrain.

Wolff responded to questions about his informal chat with Verstappen Sr.

“I have known Jos for 25 years – with ups and downs and I simply congratulated on his son’s achievement. Max is driving in a galaxy of his own”, he said, quoted by F1-Insider.

However, when pressed about whether Verstappen could become a candidate for Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes, Wolff said: “Everything is possible”.

Speaking earlier in a press session with the British media, Wolff kept the intrigue regarding Verstappen alive.

“A driver will always choose the quickest car, that is fundamentally what it is all about,” he said.

As for Verstappen, the Dutchman may soon be contemplating greener pastures at Brackley, leaving behind what could be described as scorched earth at Milton Keynes. Only time will tell…

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