Max Verstappen loses key right-hand man as Red Bull chief announces exit | F1 | Sport

Max Verstappen is preparing for life without one of his key allies at Red Bull, with Lee Stevenson set to leave the reigning champions for a rival F1 team. Stevenson has been with Red Bull since 2006 but has confirmed on social media that he will be taking up a new role elsewhere in the paddock.

Stevenson began his career in F1 with Jordan before switching to Red Bull nearly two decades ago and working his way up the ranks to earn the position of chief mechanic. He was in close contact with Verstappen thanks to his pivotal role in the garage but will soon be providing his expertise to another team on the grid.

The outgoing Red Bull mechanic announced his departure on Instagram, saying: “Just to let you all know you won’t be seeing any more posts from me from Red Bull. Today is my last day. It’s been an amazing 18 years and the things I’ve managed to achieve here have been absolutely incredible.

“It’s on to the next chapter. That chapter starts on Monday when I fly to Japan to start work with my new team at the other end of the pit lane. It’s going to be a massive challenge but one that I am ready for.”

According to RacingNews365, Stevenson is set to join Stake as their new chief mechanic ahead of their rebranding as the Audi works team in 2026. The news of his departure comes amid the uncertainty over Verstappen’s future at Red Bull, with Mercedes and Aston Martin thought to be keen on snapping him up.

Toto Wolff has made no secret of his desire to bring Verstappen to Mercedes next year when Lewis Hamilton departs to join Ferrari. The Dutchman has a long-term contract at Red Bull but is thought to have a break clause that would allow him to leave early if Helmut Marko steps down or is sacked.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Aston Martin have been drawing up ambitious plans to offer Verstappen a lucrative contract. According to Auto Motor und Sport, team owner Lawrence Stroll is convinced he can tempt Verstappen to join them by proposing a more attractive package than Mercedes.

The report adds that Red Bull’s technical guru Adrian Newey would also make the switch to Aston Martin if the move goes ahead. However, it remains unclear if Verstappen would be willing to leave Red Bull for a team without any wins under their belt since rebranding from Racing Point in 2021.

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