Mercedes tell Max Verstappen to bring Helmut Marko too, paddock whispers suggest

Rumours from F1 Japanese Grand Prix paddock suggest Mercedes have opened the door to Max Verstappen's ally

(L to R): Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant with Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Formula 1 World
(L to R): Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant with Max…

Mercedes are “very strongly” pursuing Max Verstappen and would even make room for his ally Helmut Marko.

Tom Clarkson, the host of the FIA press conferences with F1 drivers, shared what he has been told from within the paddock about the intriguing driver market.

Verstappen is contracted by Red Bull until 2028 but has an exit clause if Marko, his long-time associate, also leaves the team.

Mercedes have admitted Verstappen is their No1 choice to replace Lewis Hamilton, who will go to Ferrari next year.

Clarkson told the F1 Nation podcast about Verstappen: “His only option now is to go to Mercedes, isn’t it?

“Now that Fernando Alonso is in at Aston Martin.

“Max will either stay at Red Bull or go to Mercedes.

“In Japan, I was told by several people that Toto Wolff is pursuing Max very strongly.

“He needs a signature signing because the last three years haven’t gone well for the team.

“It would be a real statement of intent for the team if he got Max.

“It was even mentioned to me that he said to Max ‘bring Helmut Marko with you, if that’s what it requires…’

“An Austrian super-team at the top of Mercedes?

“But is that going to happen? Will he sacrifice winning another world championship in 2025 with Red Bull?
“I find it hard to believe.

“I know see a bit of static in the driver market. I see Max staying, Checo staying, Fernando is staying.”

Verstappen has insisted he will remain with Red Bull, where he is on course for a fourth consecutive F1 championship.

But that hasn’t stopped Wolff publicly insisting that Mercedes want him, amid the internal turmoil at Red Bull.

Alonso re-committing to Aston Martin has removed a key option from the driver market.

Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are tied down by McLaren and Ferrari respectively.

The future of Sergio Perez alongside Verstappen is unclear because he is out of contract and under pressure.

But Perez’s early-season form, where he has finished P2 three times behind Verstappen, is the ideal form to result in a new contract.

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