Max Verstappen ready to quit Red Bull for mega F1 deal with Mercedes as contract discussions planned

Verstappen and his representatives will meet with the Silver Arrows after the 2024 Miami Grand Prix to discuss a potential move to Mercedes

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Max Verstappen is set to quit Red Bull to join Mercedes, as representatives for the Dutch driver will reportedly open talks with Toto Wolff’s team after the conclusion of the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, in what would be one of the most shocking driver swaps in Formula 1 history.

The Silver Arrows have been hunting the 26-year-old since Lewis Hamilton announced a surprise departure to Ferrari, and they appear to be finally closing in on their man after Red Bull have been thrust into internal turmoil ever since the beginning of February, when Christian Horner was investigated for inappropriate conduct.

So, in the 10 days following the conclusion of the first race in the United States of 2024, prior to the Emilia Romagna GP in Italy, defending champion Verstappen will meet with Mercedes to gain an impression of what they’re offering, according to reports by F1-Insider.

Mercedes, with CEO of the Daimler Group, Ola Kallenius, INEOS boss Sir James Ratcliffe and Wolff himself, are set to offer Verstappen a contract worth more than £128 million ($160m), combined with an ambassadorial role and the recruitment of Helmut Marko.

Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen celebrate after the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Clive Rose / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen celebrate after the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Clive Rose / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Marko is claimed to be a crucial role in Verstappen‘s current deal with Red Bull, as if the Austrian team fire the advisor and lawyer, then their star driver can quit also leave prior to the expiry of his current contract, which runs until 2028, due to a get-out clause in his deal.

Meanwhile Verstappen, who is thought to be attending the meeting with Mercedes, alongside his father, Jos, and agent, Raymond Vermeulen, is prepared to demand that the former F1 constructors champions improve their cars should be join, as well as recruit a number of skilled technical figures from Red Bull.

That could involve their chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, who was reported on April 25 to be set to quit the team he joined in 2006 due to the internal conflict. It could also include technical director, Pierre Wache, who has also been linked to rival teams since 2018 too.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko deep in conversation at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix | Dan Mullan/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko deep in conversation at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix | Dan Mullan/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Helmut Marko won’t block Verstappen’s Mercedes move

Marko, through this reported exit clause, could essentially control whether Verstappen is allowed to quit Red Bull within the next four years or not but apparently the 80-year-old has no interest in doing so.

The pair have enjoyed a very close relationship ever since they met each other around 2014, when Verstappen was brought into the Red Bull driver development program, and Verstappen is said to be very loyal to Marko.

If he desires a move to Mercedes, then it could be that Marko leaves Red Bull first in order to allow the contract exit clause to be activated, with the German team appearing to view him as a key part of the puzzle.

Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey celebrate victory after the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey celebrate victory after the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“The internal investigations have been completed,” Marko said to F1-Insider back on April 4. “I won’t say anything more about it. As far as I’m concerned: I won’t stand in Max’s way [should he decide to leave].”

Meanwhile one of his friends and an ex-F1 driver, Gerhard Berger also said to F1-Insider: “As of now, Horner stays, Helmut Marko and Adrian Newey quit and Max goes to Mercedes.”

Two parts of the ex-Ferrari racer’s prophecy appear to have been complete with part three and four currently in the works

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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