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Verstappen opens door to EXIT after 'forgiving' huge rival

Verstappen opens door to EXIT after 'forgiving' huge rival

Verstappen opens door to EXIT after 'forgiving' huge rival

Verstappen opens door to EXIT after 'forgiving' huge rival

Max Verstappen has opened up about a potential future with Mercedes, acknowledging a changing dynamic between the Red Bull and their rival team.

The 2025 driver market is shaping up to be a dramatic one, with Lewis Hamilton's surprise move to Ferrari leaving a gaping hole at Mercedes.

READ MORE: Mercedes driver announcement imminent as team 'offers contract' to F1 star

Several hungry contenders are vying for the coveted Mercedes seat, with out-of-contract Carlos Sainz and the rising star of F2, Kimi Antonelli, just a few names thrown into the hat. However, it appears that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has a different driver at the top of his wish list: Verstappen.

While the Verstappen-Red Bull partnership seems like a match made in heaven, a switch to another team is not impossible following the controversy surrounding Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

The three-time champion has hinted that he wouldn't rule out a switch to another team, especially after rumours swirled about the potential departure of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, who shares a strong bond with the Dutchman.

READ MORE: Here's where Hamilton will make his sensational Ferrari debut next year

Verstappen's Red Bull contract is up in 2028
Wolff says Verstappen is his ideal Hamilton replacement

Verstappen: 'All forgiven and forgotten'

The Red Bull star moving to their fiercest rivals wouldn't have been a realistic conversation just a few years ago, considering the intense championship battles that saw RBR and Mercedes go toe-to-toe, particularly in the dramatic 2021 season.

Verstappen's maiden title came under controversial circumstances following a late-race call by Michael Masi that denied Hamilton a record eighth championship that year. Verstappen acknowledges a shift in the relationship between himself and Mercedes.

"Look, a few years ago there was of course a little more tension between us and Mercedes, I would like to say a little more, yes," he told De Limburger. "But that can all be forgiven and forgotten. That’s true on both sides."

However, Verstappen made it clear that his focus remains on Red Bull, especially considering their performance advantage since the start of the new regulations in 2022.

The Milton Keynes-based squad currently hold the upper hand in F1. Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez are 1-2 in the driver standings, propelling the team to the top of the constructors' championship.

"But [forgiving Wolff] doesn’t mean I think I should be driving somewhere else right now," he added. "In addition, Mercedes does not have the fastest car at the moment; that really is the Red Bull.

"In the past, even before Red Bull, we had discussions with Mercedes. Back then, they said: ‘You have to do this and that to become successful’. I think I have now shown how it should be done. They want me in that car, I understand that."

READ MORE: Repair work carried out as FIA inspection raises concerns over Chinese GP

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