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HUNGARORING, HUNGARY - AUGUST 03: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, celebrates after securing his first pole position during the Hungarian GP at Hungaroring on August 03, 2019 in Hungaroring, Hungary. (Photo by Steven Tee / LAT Images)

Horner: ‘Mercedes will target Max if Hamilton leaves’

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Red Bull have confirmed that Max Verstappen has a performance clause written into his contract and team principal Christian Horner believes that Max Verstappen will be top of Mercedes list if Lewis Hamilton decides to retire at the end of the 2021 season, or even the 2022 season. But Horner also thinks Red Bull’s relationship with Max will keep him at the team, despite the clause. 

Hamilton’s one year contract threw up many questions heading into the 2021 season, the main one of course being if he would remain at the team in 2022. Naturally, people are wondering who his successor will be if he decides to leave with Verstappen, Russell and Bottas likely fighting it out for the two seats, but check out my article below where I go through all the possible options and how likely each one is:

Who will drive for Mercedes in 2022?

“I’m sure that should Lewis decide to stop then Max will naturally be the driver at the top of Mercedes’ list,” said Horner, quoted by PA Media. “They also have George Russell and other drivers available to them. The reality is that yes, of course – as there has always been – an element of performance-related clauses to Max’s contract. But as with all these things, it’s not about forcing a driver that doesn’t want to be there.

“It’s more about relationships than contracts and you only pull a contract out of the drawer when you have a problem, in my experience. The relationship with Max is very strong, he believes in the project, in what we are doing, and he sees the investment Red Bull are making. I’m confident we won’t need to refer to any contractual clauses. It will be down to us to deliver a competitive car.”

It has been known for exit clauses to be triggered, one such example coming in 2014 when Sebastian Vettel triggered his exit clause to allow him to join Ferrari in 2015, If Verstappen chooses to do this as early as next season it currently looks like Red Bull will be in a bit of bother trying to find their next top star, as none of their junior drivers look like fulfilling this number one seat so they may have to look outside of their driver programme again, which they have shown they are willing to do with the signing of Sergio Perez for the 2021 season.

What do you think Mercedes should do for 2022? Let us know on Formulanerds social media!

Image: F1.com

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