Brundle: I expected Verstappen or Leclerc to sign for Mercedes
Martin Brundle admits that he expected either Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc to sign for Mercedes ahead of the 2021 Formula 1 campaign, following news that the former has signed a new deal with Red Bull.
Verstappen was one of a number of high-profile drivers including Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Daniel Ricciardo whose contracts expire at the end of 2020, but he halted speculation that he could move to Mercedes or Ferrari by putting pen to paper on a new contract until the conclusion of the 2023 campaign.
With Hamilton’s future at Mercedes uncertain, Brundle thinks they should have recruited Verstappen, or Charles Leclerc, as a potential replacement for the six-time world champion.
"The Verstappen news does make my mind think 'what's going on at Mercedes' short to medium term?" Brundle told Sky Sports.
"I really would have expected one of Verstappen or Leclerc to rock up at Mercedes.
"You'd have to look at it and think that Mercedes have got to be at least the equal-best car for another two or three years with the momentum they've got, so why hasn't one of them signed up there?"
As for Hamilton, Brundle wouldn’t be surprised to see him switch to Ferrari or maybe even Red Bull.
"It leaves Lewis with reduced options, but he's still holding a lot of aces," the former driver and current pundit added.
"And it doesn't prevent Lewis from going to either of those two teams at all, really.
"It possibly would at Red Bull, but it doesn't stop the idea of a Hamilton-Leclerc line-up at Ferrari. But it has cut Lewis' options down, if indeed he hasn't already signed with Mercedes-Benz longer term.
"Maybe the music stopped before Christmas, they all sat down and there is some embedded news we haven't heard yet."
Brundle concedes that he thought Verstappen would see if Red Bull were capable of putting together a car worthy of race wins and the championship in 2020 before making a decision on his future, saying something must have happened behind the scenes for the deal to be fast tracked,
"These post-2020 deals have certainly happened earlier than I expected," he admitted.
"I thought Max would see whether Red Bull could give him a championship-challenging car over the first few races of the year and then take a view.
"So something has crystalised that earlier, which again makes my mind wonder about what is going on elsewhere."
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.