Formula 1
Formula 1
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
Race in
45 days
09 May
Next event in
62 days
23 May
Race in
80 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
94 days
13 Jun
Race in
101 days
27 Jun
Race in
115 days
04 Jul
Next event in
118 days
18 Jul
Race in
136 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
150 days
29 Aug
Race in
178 days
05 Sep
Race in
185 days
12 Sep
Race in
192 days
26 Sep
Race in
206 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
209 days
10 Oct
Race in
220 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
234 days
31 Oct
Race in
241 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
262 days
R
Saudi Arabia GP
05 Dec
Race in
276 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
283 days

Horner: Verstappen Mercedes' first choice if Hamilton quits

Red Bull believes Max Verstappen would be “at the top of the list” for Mercedes if Lewis Hamilton quits after 2021, confirming the Dutchman’s Formula 1 contract includes a performance clause.

Horner: Verstappen Mercedes' first choice if Hamilton quits

Mercedes announced last week that seven-time world champion Hamilton had signed a new one-year contract to remain at the team for 2021, leading to speculation about his future beyond the end of the season.

Should Hamilton decide to step away from F1 at the end of the year, it has been suggested that Verstappen could be an option for Mercedes to replace the Briton.

Although Verstappen’s Red Bull contract runs to the end of the 2023 season, it has been common in the past for drivers to have performance-related clauses in their contract. One example came in 2014 when Sebastian Vettel triggered an exit clause at Red Bull to join Ferrari for 2015.

Red Bull has previously hinted that Verstappen’s contract may include such a clause, but it was confirmed by team principal Christian Horner on Monday during a select media roundtable.

“All drivers have safeguards within performance, and the reality is that as there has always been,” Horner said.

“There is an element of performance related to Max’s contract. I’m not going to go into what that is. It doesn’t relate to the power unit in any way, it’s just a binary performance at a certain measurement in time.

“As with all these things, though, to force a driver that doesn’t want to be there, it’s more about relationships than contracts. You only pull a contract out of a drawer when you’ve got a problem, in my experience.

“The relationship with Max is very strong. He believes in the project, he believes in what we’re doing. He sees the investment that Red Bull is making, very much with the recent commitment on the powertrain, he believes in the people within the team, working within the team.

"I’m confident that we won’t need to refer to any contractual clauses. I think that it will ultimately be down to us to deliver a competitive car. That’s what he wants, that’s what we want. He needs that, we need that.

“So in that respect, we’re both in an identical situation.”

Read Also:

Asked if he was at all worried that Mercedes could make an approach for Verstappen if Hamilton were to leave, Horner said it was logical he would be at the top of its shortlist.

“I'm sure that should Lewis decide to stop then Max would have naturally be the driver at the top of the list,” Horner said.

“But they also have George Russell. They’ve also got other drivers obviously available to them. And I think again, as I say, it's all down to relationships and us forming a competitive car.

“There’s no guarantees for 2022. It's a complete clean sheet of paper. If there’s going to be a significant mix up of the order, one would assume it's going to be with that big regulation change.”

Verstappen signed a new long-term agreement with Red Bull at the start of 2020, committing to the squad for the following four seasons.

After becoming the youngest race winner in F1 history on debut for Red Bull in 2016, Verstappen has scored a further nine wins for the squad, and finished third in the drivers’ championship for each of the past two seasons.

Mercedes has yet to confirm any of its driver plans beyond 2021. Both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas are out of contract at the end of the season, while junior driver George Russell will also be a free agent once his Williams deal expires.

shares
comments

Related video

McLaren explains lack of Mercedes branding

Previous article

McLaren explains lack of Mercedes branding

Next article

The core faults Ferrari must fix in 2021

The core faults Ferrari must fix in 2021
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Max Verstappen
Teams Mercedes
Author Luke Smith
Why Aston Martin’s arrival is more than just new green livery Prime

Why Aston Martin’s arrival is more than just new green livery

In the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 team launch of the season, the rebranded Aston Martin squad’s changes go much further than the striking paint job. But rather than a restart, the team hopes to build on top of solid foundations.

The car Aston Martin begins its new F1 journey with Prime

The car Aston Martin begins its new F1 journey with

The team formerly known as Racing Point gambled successfully on a Mercedes look-alike in 2020 as it mounted a strong challenge for third in the constructors' race and won the Sakhir GP. Now clothed in British racing green, Aston Martin's first Formula 1 challenger since 1960 provides the clearest indicator yet of what to expect from the new-for-2021 regulations

The tricky driver conundrums facing Mercedes in F1 2021 Prime

The tricky driver conundrums facing Mercedes in F1 2021

Ahead of the new Formula 1 season, reigning world champions Mercedes will take on challenges both old and new. This also can be said for its driver conundrum which could become key to sustaining its ongoing success...

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
How Alpine's cure to 2021 F1 rules starts at the front Prime

How Alpine's cure to 2021 F1 rules starts at the front

A new name, new faces and new colours pulls the rebranded Alpine Formula 1 team into a new era while carrying over core elements of its 2020 car. But under the surface there's more than meets the eye with the A521 which hints at how the team will tackle 2021...

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
Can Mercedes' W12 retain the team's crown? Prime

Can Mercedes' W12 retain the team's crown?

Replacing Formula 1's fastest car was never going to be an easy feat for Mercedes. Amid the technical rule tweaks to peg back the W12 and its 2021 rivals, the new Mercedes challenger will remain the target to beat

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era Prime

The pointed note that starts Ferrari's Leclerc vs Sainz era

Ferrari is starting its post-Sebastian Vettel age by welcoming Carlos Sainz in alongside Charles Leclerc. But while Sainz has a tough challenge to match his new teammate, Ferrari is also sending a message that previous intra-team spats must end

Formula 1
Mar 2, 2021
The mantra Ocon must follow to challenge Alonso at Alpine Prime

The mantra Ocon must follow to challenge Alonso at Alpine

OPINION: It's been an uneasy ride for Esteban Ocon since his F1 comeback - and fresh challenges lie in wait as he's joined by double world champion Fernando Alonso in the newly rebranded Alpine team. STUART CODLING sets out a roadmap to success…

Formula 1
Mar 1, 2021
Why Haas is willing to sacrifice its 2021 F1 season Prime

Why Haas is willing to sacrifice its 2021 F1 season

Every Formula 1 team is facing the same difficult decision this season: how do you split precious aero development time between the current car and the all-new 2022 project?

Formula 1
Mar 1, 2021