Verstappen, who is charging towards a third consecutive F1 championship this season amid Red Bull’s dominance which shows no signs of slowing down before the regulations change in 2026, has regularly hinted he may retire early.

Should their superstar depart, then Red Bull would want a replacement with comparable fame, which brings Norris into the equation, Crofty believes.

Who Will Be Red Bull's Next F1 Driver?

“The more Max says ‘I might not be around after 2028, I might retire early and do other things’, the more Red Bull feel ‘we need a big star to be alongside Max for a couple of years, three years, then be our big star to carry on into the future’,” he told Sky F1.

“That suits Lando Norris’ star billing, at the moment.

“Will he stay around at McLaren longer than his contract? It depends if they give him a car which can challenge for a championship.

“It’s a slow burner, but it’s a big story.”

Verstappen is racing at his home grand prix at Zandvoort this weekend, hoping to continue the streak which has Red Bull win every outing of 2023 so far.

Yet doubts persist over his teammate Sergio Perez, the only other driver to win a race this year, whose form dipped just as Verstappen’s dominance grew.

Perez is contracted for next season but, with Daniel Ricciardo openly admitting his desire for the 2025 Red Bull seat, his position is coveted.

“When Sergio’s contract comes to an end, unless he is performing in the way that Red Bull want, they will look outside,” Crofty said.

“Unless Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson or Daniel Ricciardo prove they can win races consistently, and be that big team challenge to Verstappen.”