Andrea Kimi Antonelli: Class of 2023 - Junior Program Line-Up

F1 News: Verstappen will stay, Antonelli to Mercedes – Marko

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has moved to play down continuing ‘fake’ rumors that Red Bull really could lose Max Verstappen’s services at the end of 2024.

It is well known that, at least until mere days ago, Toto Wolff was still waiting for the possibility that the power struggle at Red Bull might see Verstappen trigger an exit clause.

Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya doesn’t believe it.

“That’s not going to happen,” he told the Dutch magazine Formule 1. “Max isn’t leaving. I’ll bet money on it.

“Believe me, as a driver you never voluntarily get out of a winning car.”

However, with Adrian Newey already leaving Red Bull, the lingering story is that Max Verstappen’s mentor Dr Helmut Marko may also jump ship and take the triple world champion with him to Mercedes.

Red Bull F1 consultant Marko admits to Osterreich newspaper that he thinks Verstappen could also have won last weekend’s Canadian GP in a McLaren or a Mercedes.

“Yes,” he said. “Only Max has the overview of the race and the confidence to accelerate when necessary. Apart from that, our team used an absolutely correct strategy.”

So when asked if a sensational move to Mercedes might now be a possibility for Verstappen, Marko answered: “But I have just read that they have confirmed (Kimi) Antonelli.”

But while Bild, RTL and other authoritative sources agree that the Antonelli deal is now done for 2025, it is not yet official.

“We are fully focused on winning the world championship,” Marko responded, when told that the Antonelli reports are still “rumor”.

“We have seen that when you are not fully focused, you quickly lose the ability to win.”

However, former F1 driver Christijan Albers thinks the special terms of Sergio Perez’s new Red Bull contract leaves Red Bull with options in the event Verstappen really does jump ship.

“I do think he has a contract with performance clauses so they can get rid of him,” he told De Telegraaf. “I don’t think they signed him in the way they did in previous years.”

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