Helmut Marko gives three-word hint that will keep Mercedes’ Max Verstappen hopes alive | F1 | Sport

Helmut Marko has aided Mercedes’ long-term hopes of bringing Max Verstappen into the team have been bolstered after prefacing his and the Dutchman’s commitment to Red Bull by saying they won’t be joining the Silver Arrows ‘at the moment’.

Toto Wolff had hoped to lure both Marko and Verstappen to the Mercedes camp for the 2025 season amid the ongoing speculation about the former’s future at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last weekend. The team principal even went as far as to make a public offer to the 80-year-old.

However, following a prompt internal investigation into allegations that he had played a role in the leaking of the Christian Horner chats, and a conversation with Oliver Mintzlaff – managing director of the energy drinks company – Marko was cleared to continue in his role.

This firmed up the future of Verstappen, who had threatened to quit Red Bull should they fire Marko off the back of the investigation. The 26-year-old views the advisor as a key ally and was willing to put his foot down to ensure that he stayed in the team.

Such a public act of loyalty went down well with Marko, and after he was cleared of any wrongdoing, he said: “I was really thankful for how loyal Max was. I was impressed. We are not going to Mercedes together at the moment.”

With Marko refusing to shut the door for good, Wolff will still hold some hope that he can eventually persuade the Dutchman to don the overalls of the Silver Arrows. However, he has always remained realistic about his prospects of bringing the three-time world champion to Brackley in 2025.

Addressing Mercedes’ chances of signing Verstappen after the speculation first arose, he noted: “Every team would like to take Max because he is the strongest driver, that’s logical. But the driver will always try to be in the strongest car. That’s why we have to do our homework beforehand so that the car performs. Mercedes could become a real alternative for Max.”

For now, however, Wolff will have to reassess his options to replace the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso, Kimi Antonelli and Alex Albon have all been tipped as potential targets for the Silver Arrows with the driver market tiptoeing until Mercedes opt to pull the trigger and name their new line-up for 2025.

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