Max Verstappen’s F1 future: Lewis Hamilton suspects triple champion on Mercedes’ ‘list’ but doubts 2025 move

“I think my [Ferrari] move has shown anything’s possible,” says Lewis Hamilton amid rumours about Max Verstappen’s future; watch Saudi Arabian GP practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the race on Saturday, plus new F1 Academy season – all live on Sky Sports F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen would be on the list to replace him at Mercedes but questions why the Dutchman would want to leave Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen is “on the list” for Mercedes as they search possible replacements for him at the team for 2025 – but doubts the Dutchman would give up driving F1’s fastest car.

Verstappen is currently dominating the sport to a record extent with Red Bull, winning 29 of the last 34 races, and is on a long-term contract at the world champions until the end of 2028.

But speculation around the 26-year-old’s future at the team ignited after Jos Verstappen, Max’s father, said last Saturday, the day of the season-opening race which his son subsequently won, that Red Bull was in “danger of being torn apart” if team boss Christian Horner remained in his position, claiming it “will explode”.

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson subsequently countered that suggestion by stating the team “are united and we are focused on racing”.

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Verstappen Snr’s remarks prompted talk that his son could move to rivals Mercedes, who have a vacancy next to George Russell for next season following the shock news at the start of February that Hamilton was switching to Ferrari next year.

Asked about the chance of Verstappen replacing him when speaking to the media on Wednesday ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP, Hamilton said: “I think my move has shown anything’s possible.

“It’s going to be a really interesting next six months or so. I don’t have an extra scoop.

“I’m sure Max is on the list. But I’m pretty sure he’s tied up and also I couldn’t see why you would leave a car that’s that good.”

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reveals the story behind Lewis Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari in 2025, and the potential impact across the paddock.

While the prospect of such a switch in the short term still appears unlikely now, such a scenario would have appeared especially far-fetched three years ago when Mercedes’ Hamilton and Red Bull’s Verstappen waged one of F1’s most-intense and acrimonious title duels.

Hamilton, who was controversially pipped to that 2021 crown by Verstappen following the incorrect handling of a final-lap Safety Car restart in the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, said: “He’s a great driver and we said back then, I don’t think Max…in that moment he did what he had to do.

“It was nothing on him, it was the sport that let us down. That wasn’t his fault. If I was in his position, I would have done exactly the same thing. There’s no issues there but I think if you run a team, you want to have the best driver and a driver that brings in the eyeballs and sponsorship and he’s one of them.

“I understand it. It wouldn’t make sense for him but it will be interesting to see.”

‘The intention is of course absolutely to stay with this team’

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Max Verstappen responds after being questioned on his future and whether he sees himself staying at Red Bull

Verstappen himself was quizzed about his future, in addition to his father’s explosive comments, during his own media engagements in the Jeddah paddock on Wednesday.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if there was any circumstance in which he could see himself not driving a Red Bull in 2025, the triple champion said: “Things must go really crazy, I guess.

“But that’s not the target for everyone.”

Soon afterwards, when speaking to the written media, Verstappen said seeing out his deal to 2028 had “always been the intention of signing”.

“That’s why we signed so long, to be here,” he added.

“And of course it’s about the performance of the car, and of course from 2026 onwards anyway that is a bit of a question mark with new regulations, but I knew that when I signed my contract.

“But I also know what they have done for me in my career, so the intention is of course absolutely to stay with this team because I really enjoy it and I’m also really happy within the team. As long as perform there is no reason also to leave.”

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Craig Slater gives an update on the current situation at Red Bull and whether Max Verstappen will remain with the team after speculation has arisen over his future.

Verstappen did though cite Hamilton’s out-of-the-blue Ferrari switch as he stopped short of completely ruling out the possibility of ever driving for Mercedes, although reiterated that at the moment “there’s no reason to leave” Red Bull.

“The thing is, no one would have seen Lewis moving to Ferrari, and in my life – and that’s not related to F1 or whatever, that’s just general life – you never know what happens or what comes to you or whatever happens around you or what might influence you, so you can never say 100 per cent that that’s how it’s going to be.

“And I approach my life like that but I also don’t think about it too much. I’m very relaxed, like I said I’m very happy at the team, the performance is there, there’s no reason to leave.”

Russell: Verstappen as team-mate would be ‘exciting’ | Alonso’s watching brief

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George Russell thinks any team would be interested in signing Max Verstappen, following rumours linking the Dutchman to Mercedes

In Wednesday’s pre-event drivers’ press conference, Russell was asked whether he would welcome Verstappen as his next team-mate at Mercedes.

“This is my third season now alongside Lewis, the greatest driver of all time, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job alongside him,” said Russell.

“So whoever were to line-up alongside me next year, or the years to come, I welcome anybody. I welcome a challenge. You always want to go against the best but ultimately for me I’m just focused on myself, I believe in myself, I believe I can beat anybody on the grid and you’ve just got to have that mentality. So, as I said, having Lewis as my benchmark for the last couple of years has been a pretty good benchmark for sure.”

Russell, like Hamilton, said he would expect Verstappen to be on Mercedes’ radar.

“I think any team wants to have the best driver line-up possible and right now Max is the best driver on the grid. So if any team had the chance to sign Max they’d 100 per cent be taking it,” he added.

“The question is more on the other side, on his side, and Red Bull’s side [with] obviously so much going on there. We don’t know what’s truly going on behind closed doors and ultimately it’s none of our business right now.

“I guess it would be exciting”.

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Fernando Alonso says he needs to make a personal decision about his commitment to the sport, before considering offers from individual teams.

One driver, meanwhile, who will be monitoring developments at Mercedes, and any unexpected ones at Red Bull, closely is Fernando Alonso.

The two-time champion’s deal at Aston Martin expires at the end of the year and the 42-year-old has already himself been linked strongly to Hamilton’s Mercedes seat.

“Obviously, I don’t have any contract at the moment so it’s better to be on those lists or other lists or being on the retirement [list],” said Alonso of the rumour mill linking him to Mercedes and Red Bull.

“But I will make the decision to commit to the future in the next few weeks or few races.

“First of all, I need to speak with myself. I need to make a decision if I personally want to commit for the future. I need to sacrifice everything else in life to be 100 per cent ready for Formula 1 and that will be the decision.

“But [being on a] list, or no list, or questions, it’s more to [ask] Max, to them, and I will follow with interest the answers.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Saudi Arabian GP schedule

Thursday March 7

  • 9.50am: F2 Practice
  • 10.50am: F1 Academy Practice
  • 1pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice One (session starts at 1.30pm)
  • 2.55pm: F2 Qualifying
  • 4.45pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice Two (session starts at 5pm)
  • 6.15pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
  • 7.15pm: The F1 Show

Friday March 8

  • 11.55am: F1 Academy Race 1
  • 1.10pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice Three (session starts at 1.30pm)
  • 3.05pm: F2 Sprint Race
  • 4.10pm: Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying build-up

Saturday March 9

  • 12pm: F1 Academy Race 2
  • 1.20pm: F2 Feature Race
  • 3.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 7pm: Saudi Arabian GP reaction: Chequered flag
  • 9.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP highlights

Watch the second round of the new F1 season – the Saudi Arabian GP – live on Sky Sports F1 this coming week, with practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the race at 5pm on Saturday. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership for just £21 a month for 12 months

Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight showdown with Francis Ngannou takes place on Friday March 8, live on Sky Sports Box Office with the main event expected around 11pm. Book Joshua v Ngannou now!

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