1996 F1 champion Damon Hill considers the 2021 season Red Bull’s last chance at a world title with Max Verstappen, saying that the Dutchman will go to Mercedes if he isn’t champion at the end of the year.
As both Mercedes’ drivers’ contracts end at the end of the 2021 season, and with the new regulations just around the corner, speculations start to rise around the future of Max Verstappen. Despite being signed to Red Bull until the end of 2023, Verstappen has a “performance clause” in his contract, stating that they have to provide him with a championship contending car, which could lead to the team losing Max if he isn’t able to win the Drivers’ Championship this year.
Even more so, Christian Horner reported that Mercedes want Verstappen in their car. So, what did F1 champion and pundit Damon Hill think about the situation?
Hill thinks that a Mercedes switch is very possible for the Dutchman, reporting to Autocar that “He was the youngest F1 winner back in 2016, but he hasn’t been able to fight for a championship yet. That will be in his mind”.
“He’s been very loyal to Red Bull, but if they can’t provide the competitiveness he needs… Time is ticking.”
Even though Hamilton reported that he had only signed a one-year deal with Mercedes because negotiations have been pressured by time, Hill and many others believe that Lewis could leave the Mercedes team at the end of the 2021 season, but it could as well be a matter of “keeping your options open”.
Hill said that “Everybody has this in the back of their mind: “when will I have to stop racing, and will I know when is the right time to stop? (…) Keeping your options open is the right thing to do”
“But we saw what happened with Michael [Schumacher] at Ferrari, where you think “they’ll wait for me”. The trouble is Mercedes won’t and can’t.”
He finished his thoughts about Verstappen’s possible move to Mercedes by stating “Assuming you are indispensable is risky”, regarding Lewis Hamilton.
With both Mercedes’ drivers’ contracts ending at the end of the 2021 season, will we see a Max Verstappen / George Russell line-up at the German team? Many seem to believe so.