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Bernie Ecclestone

Verstappen 'too intelligent' to leave Red Bull – Ecclestone

In a RacingNews365 exclusive interview, former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone discussed the rumours linking Max Verstappen to Mercedes.

Verstappen win China 2024
Interview
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Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Max Verstappen is "too intelligent" to leave Red Bull, and that an early exit from the team that has made him a three-time F1 champion would be "silly".

Despite Red Bull's dominance, the possibility of Verstappen leaving is genuine due to ongoing issues behind the scenes along with concerns ahead of the 2026 power unit regulations, and the new Powertrains department's capability to develop its maiden engine.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey will leave the team in early 2025, ending what will be a 19-year partnership that has yielded seven drivers' championships and six constructors' titles.

Despite continued rumblings of a power struggle, speaking before confirmation of Newey's departure, Ecclestone does not see Verstappen following him through the exit door.

"He's too intelligent to do that," said Ecclestone. "What would he gain? To go where?"

Verstappen has always received impeccable treatment from Red Bull's F1 team and the energy drink company. Ecclestone feels he will struggle to find similar treatment elsewhere.

"It'd be silly to move," asserted the 93-year-old. "There's nowhere he could go where I think he would get exactly the same service as you get at Red Bull."

A chance to prove he is the star

Verstappen, however, continues to be linked with Mercedes. Team principal Toto Wolff, who missed out on signing Verstappen before he joined the Red Bull family, will likely pull out all the stops to avoid falling short again

According to various reports, a staggering sum has been offered to the Dutchman to replace Lewis Hamilton.

Whilst Red Bull will presumably boast a stronger package than Mercedes in 2025, the pecking order will completely reset come 2026 when the new power unit regulations are introduced, ensuring there is no guarantee the champion's dominance will continue.

Mercedes has a history of developing competitive engines, notably brushing aside its rivals when the hybrid era began in 2014, and continuing through to 2021.

Joining Mercedes could offer Verstappen an escape route if he believes Red Bull's 2026 powertrain is behind schedule, as has been rumoured.

Ecclestone also recognises it could allow the 26-year-old to prove he is the star and not Red Bull's car.

"Well, the only thing is, you can do that when it suits you, rather than being pushed into it because you would think 'why should Mercedes get that big advantage?'" questioned Ecclestone.

"They would spend the money. Red Bull spends the money. He knows about Red Bull, he knows exactly what they do and what they don't do.

"Would he go to think he could prove it's not what people say at the moment, maybe it's not him it's the car that's fantastic.

"So maybe he would like to go somewhere else to prove it's me, not the car. It's another side of things. But where would he go? I suppose in the end Mercedes is the obvious choice."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix