In the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s groundbreaking move to Ferrari for 2025, the Formula 1 rumor mill is in overdrive, with speculation mounting about who could possibly fill the void left at Mercedes. Among the bold suggestions is a move that would undoubtedly send shockwaves through the paddock: Mercedes attempting to lure Max Verstappen from Red Bull. Christian Danner, a former F1 driver and respected pundit, is championing this audacious idea, sparking a fascinating debate about the future lineup of the Silver Arrows.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ master strategist and team boss, while tactfully navigating questions about potential replacements, hinted at the ambition driving Mercedes’ search for excellence. “We will always strive to have the best possible driver combination,” Wolff stated, acknowledging the complexity of F1 contracts. He added, “At the same time, of course we respect contracts that exist,” highlighting the delicate dance of respecting existing agreements while exploring future possibilities.
Verstappen, currently tied to Red Bull until 2028, might seem a fortress too tough to storm, but as Danner points out, the world of Formula 1 contracts is full of nuances, including exit clauses that could open doors thought to be firmly shut. Speaking to Germany’s Bild newspaper, Danner emphasized, “Every name has to be discussed. There must be no legal or monetary obstacles, and the same applies to contracts.” He elaborated on the necessity for Mercedes to consider every available talent, including Verstappen, stating, “Every driver who is at the Mercedes level has to be an issue. That’s why they also have to think about Max.”
Danner doesn’t stop at Verstappen; he suggests Wolff should also be closely examining the contracts of McLaren’s dynamic young duo, Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, believing either could be a formidable successor to Hamilton. “Max would of course be the best possible solution,” Danner asserted, “but Piastri and Norris would also both be top successors for Lewis. Both have everything they need to win multiple world championship titles – if they have the right car.”
While the departure of a legend like Hamilton is undoubtedly a blow to any team, Danner sees it as a pivotal moment for Mercedes, a chance to demonstrate resilience and forward-thinking. “After two years of crisis, Mercedes now has to prove that they can still do it,” he stated, pointing out the dual nature of Hamilton’s departure as both a challenge and an opportunity for the team.
George Russell, already secured for Mercedes in 2025, is seen as a key figure in this transition, ready to step up and fill the leadership vacuum. Wolff, reflecting on the timing of Hamilton’s announcement, appreciates the forward notice. “Lewis had the wellbeing of the team in mind when he announced his decision so early. This gives us planning security and allows us to explore the market,” Wolff shared with Bild newspaper.
The speculation extends to Kimi Antonelli, a young protege under Wolff’s management, who, despite his tender age of 17 and leap into Formula 2, is already being discussed as a potential star at Mercedes. Giedo van der Garde acknowledges the risk but sees the potential for greatness. “It may be too early for him,” van der Garde said, “but if he becomes Formula 2 champion this year and he has already shown that he really is a cannon of a driver, then you’d have Russell and Antonelli. How cool is that?”