Max Verstappen will be the main target of Mercedes in case Lewis Hamilton leaves Formula 1 after 2021, and an important factor in this story is the clause in Verstappen's contract with Red Bull. After a long drag and negotiation, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes finally agreed on a new, one-year contract last week and the continuation of the most successful collaboration in the history of the sport.
However, many have already started speculating that this year could be the last for Briton, given that he has only one year of the contract. Verstappen's contract with Red Bull lasts until the end of 2023, which is another full three seasons, but the Dutchman has a clause in the contract that allows him to leave at the end of 2021.
Let's just remember Sebastian Vettel, who joined Ferrari in 2015 because of such a clause. “All drivers have individual items and clauses in the contract, it’s always been that way,” Christian Horner said.
"There's an element in Max's contract that has to do with car performance." “I will not go into details, it has nothing to do with the drive unit. In my experience, such details are not entered at all if there is no problem between the driver and the team.
" “Our relationship with Max is very strong. He believes in this project, he believes in what we do. He is witnessing the effort that Red Bull is investing, especially lately with the engine. He believes in people in the team and working together ” "I am sure that there will be no need to enter into any clauses in our contract.
Ultimately, it is up to us to deliver the competitive car. He wants it, we want it. We are in an identical situation. "
Mercedes is interested
Horner went on to comment on Mercedes ’possible interest in Hamilton’s departure case as logical.
“I’m sure Max would be at the top of their list if Lewis decides to leave,” he comments. “But they also have George Russell. They also have some other drivers available to them. As I said, it all comes down to our relationship with Max and the quality of the car.
” “Nothing is guaranteed for 2022. Everything is open on paper. The change in regulations comes with the expectation that the balance of power between the teams will change, ”he concludes. Mercedes has contracts with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton that expire after next season, and it is increasingly speculated that the team will leave at the end of the year one of the drivers who together won four constructive titles for the Silver Arrows.