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Max Verstappen

Villeneuve speculates on Verstappen's F1 future and makes Mercedes prediction

Jacques Villeneuve has offered his take on the speculation that Max Verstappen could leave Red Bull before his contract concludes.

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F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve has offered an intriguing driver market theory as speculation continues to surround the future of Max Verstappen.

The three-time F1 champion has been linked with a move away from Red Bull even though his contract with the team runs through to the end of 2028. The suggestion is he could be with a new team in 2026 when the new power unit regulations come into force. 

It is rumoured that Mercedes and Ferrari are looking the strongest ahead of those rules, unveiled ahead of last weekend's Canadian GP. 

If Verstappen did leave Red Bull, the big question is where would he go? McLaren has a secured pairing in Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri for the next couple of seasons, as does Ferrari with Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.

Imagining Red Bull without Verstappen is almost impossible, with Villeneuve also struggling to decipher where the 26-year-old could move.

"Max is a racer. It doesn't matter what team or what car he's in. He always seems to be 100 per cent," Villeneuve told Best Payout Online Slots

"Where could he go that would be good for him? The two good teams right now seem to be Ferrari and McLaren and there is no place available there."

Mercedes?

One team that currently does have an available seat for 2026 is Mercedes, but it has yet to confirm a driver for the new regulations. 

It is expected that one seat will be taken by its junior sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is the favourite to replace Lewis Hamilton next season. 

George Russell's contract expires at the end of 2025, so his seat is currently available for the new rules should Mercedes part company with the Briton, although that is highly unlikely.

Villeneuve does not see Mercedes as an option either for Verstappen, with the Canadian believing they will want an older driver for 2025, before taking on Antonelli for 2026.

"Mercedes doesn't want to give anyone a long-term contract because they want to keep the seat warm for Andrea Kimi Antonelli," added the 1997 world champion. 

"That is the future plan they have been working on for years. They will make it come true. And there is no top driver who would want to go to Mercedes. 

"They are not winning and there is only a one-year contract available. Maybe someone like Valtteri Bottas could go there for a year."

Also interesting:

Max Verstappen hit back after an out-of-sorts Monaco GP, Sergio Perez floundered again - and into a controversial retirement. How much damage can Ferrari and McLaren inflict with Red Bull fighting with one hand tied behind its back, did the Milton Keynes-based team re-sign Perez too soon? After a thoroughly entertaining Canadian GP, host Nick Golding is joined by Ian Parkes and Samuel Coop to analyse all things.

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here

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