Martin Brundle has questioned why Mercedes did not pursue Max Verstappen with more intensity to sign for them for the 2021 season, after the Dutchman signed a new deal with Red Bull this week.
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.
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"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 admits 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."