Endless options for Verstappen: ‘Mercedes wants him, at Aston Martin they would cover him with gold’

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Endless options for Verstappen: 'Mercedes wants him, at Aston Martin they would cover him with gold'

F1 journalist Leo Turrini points out in his column that the first bomb thrown under the 2024 season came from Lewis Hamilton. Due to his departure from Mercedes, a seat becomes available, and because there are rumblings behind the scenes at Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen was also involved in the story. It is clear to Turrini that everyone would like to have him.

The silly season normally only starts around the summer months, as the drivers and teams then weigh their options for the season ahead. However, things started early in 2024. Hamilton announced before the start of the season that he will leave for Ferrari at the end of the year, making a seat available at Mercedes for the first time since Bottas’ departure. Many names have already been mentioned to fill that seat: Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel, Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The name that is currently going around is Max Verstappen. According to Turrini, Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes and his arrival at Ferrari not only affects Mercedes, but also the other teams.

“The 2024 season is a scene of mass diversionary maneuvers,” Turrini opens his column at Quotidiano Nazionale. ‘This is because we see the same situation over and over again on the circuit. I hope I’m wrong, but Red Bull can really win 24 out of 24 races. Ferrari has shaken off the rest of the field so far. The first diversion was Hamilton. That’s where the bomb burst, that was the Big Bang,” writes the Italian. ‘Lewis probably knows more than those who have been here for years bragging about Mercedes’ glorious and steady progress. Hamilton trusts John Elkann more than Daimler Benz. Do what you will with it, but this is remarkable.’

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lewis hamilton ferrari frederic vasseur carlos sainz lando norris mclaren
Hamilton and Vasseur have always been a team player. (Photo: Ferrari F1 Media)

The bomb that Hamilton threw during the silly season has led to stories that Verstappen would leave his trusted team, especially when news came out about what is going on behind the scenes at Red Bull. ‘Can Red Bull survive without Horner? Or are Verstappen senior and Marko right to doubt whether the Red Bull empire can survive without an agreement with Porsche from 2026?’ Turrini wonders. “They fight because the future is at stake, and they all could lose. But Max is a phenomenon. Point. He also has a clause to break his contract, just like Hamilton and Leclerc. At Mercedes they would take it straight away, at Aston Martin they would cover it with gold. But what are his intentions? Will he use the 2025 championship to prepare a new era?’

‘Newey is less sensitive to the red machine’

The season is still long, and it does not appear that Verstappen is preparing to leave for the time being. Mercedes also still has time to fill its second seat, but the timing is not exactly ideal. “Hamilton’s move puts Wolff in a bind,” Turrini thinks. ‘He needs to replace his totem. He can go for a safe second option, such as Sainz, Alonso or even Vettel, or for the unknown, Antonelli,” writes the Italian. ‘In any case, the departure is a slap in the face for Toto. But it is clear that he is thinking of Verstappen and to a lesser extent Leclerc. In any case, Hamilton has sent a strong and clear message to his colleagues…’

Now that things are going wrong at Red Bull and Ferrari seems to be in good shape from 2025 with a seven-time world champion in house, there is also a lot of speculation about the future of top designer Adrian Newey. The latest rumors predict that he will leave for Ferrari. “I would be surprised if they didn’t ask him to come to Maranello,” Turrini said. ‘Elkann is indeed trying and that’s a good thing. But how do you convince someone who is a legend and has a legendary bank account? He is an engineer and not a driver, so he is less sensitive to the red machine. And how long would his gardening leave last?’

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