Croft about Verstappen’s switch to Mercedes: ‘Seems unlikely to me’

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Croft about Verstappen's switch to Mercedes: 'Seems unlikely to me'

The 2024 season has only just started, but the musical chairs that will take place before 2025 are already a topic of discussion. In February, Lewis Hamilton announced that he would switch from Mercedes to Ferrari, thus freeing up a coveted spot at Mercedes. During the race weekend in Melbourne, Sky presenter David Croft shared his prediction about who will sit in the vacant seat at Mercedes next year.

Speaking to Fox Sports Australia, Croft was asked who he thinks will be driving for Mercedes from next season. Since Oliver Bearman’s impressive debut at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, a number of young drivers are also being considered in addition to the current drivers.

It won’t be Alonso

Croft said that after the race in Jeddah he joked with Ferrari team boss Frédéric Vasseur about whether he now regrets bringing in Hamilton for last year. ‘I joked with Vasseur after the race in Saudi Arabia that he might now tear up Hamilton’s contract and go for the other Brit (Bearman, ed.). He could achieve a good result for much less money. But he replied ‘no’ and said he was happy with Lewis.”

Fernando Alonso is also not in the Mercedes seat, according to Croft. ‘The best drivers can turn a podium into a victory and a top 6 into a top 3. Look at Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, for example. He is undoubtedly in the race for that seat. But I don’t think he will get the seat, I think he will stay at Aston Martin.’

Choice of two drivers

According to Croft, Mercedes has two serious options. ‘If you are Toto Wolff, you say: ‘We lost Lewis Hamilton and now I give you the future. The future is Andrea Kimi Antonelli. He is the man and we are leading this man to a possible world championship.” Or you say: ‘We lost Lewis Hamilton and I now give you Max Verstappen. Both are acceptable and I think it will come down to a choice between the two.’

The decision will take some time, Croft suspects. ‘When it comes to Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Toto doesn’t have to make a decision now, he can do that later in the season. You shouldn’t judge him solely on his results, because then you would have to compare him with his teammate Bearman. You have to judge him on how he races and not on the results he gets. If he can get Verstappen for three years and place Antonelli at Williams for a few years, that would be good for Mercedes. But Williams wouldn’t want to sign Antonelli for just one year.’

Croft’s preference therefore seems clear. ‘Could Max Verstappen go to Mercedes? It seems unlikely to me, but you never say that something in Formula 1 is impossible.’ The Brit takes a few Australian dollars out of his pocket. “If I had to bet an Australian dollar, I would bet ten Australian dollars that Mercedes will go for Andrea Kimi Antonelli for next season.”

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