Mercedes given Max Verstappen hope by Red Bull boss as star eyed to replace Lewis Hamilton

F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season

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Mercedes have been given hope of luring Max Verstappen from Red Bull in the future after Helmut Marko confirmed there is a performance clause in the Belgian’s contract. Verstappen has a contract at Red Bull until 2023, however according to Marko there is an exit clause for the 23-year-old.

Mercedes have been linked with Verstappen for a number of years.

Both of the Silver Arrows’ drivers are out of contract at the end of the 2021 campaign.

Valtteri Bottas and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton both only signed one-year extensions in their most recent deals.

So Mercedes could be in the position of needing to find two new drivers for the 2022 campaign, with George Russell and Verstappen being eyed as the long-term successors to Bottas and Hamilton.

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And Marko has claimed Verstappen would be “free” to leave Red Bull if the team do not meet his expectations on track with the Dutchman desperate to win a Drivers’ Championship.

“Yes, there is a performance clause,” Marko told F1 Insider.

“I don’t want to go into details, but it more or less says that Max can compete for race wins and the world championship on his own merits.

“If he can do that, his contract is extended. If not, he would be free.”

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Marko still believes Verstappen can bring success to Red Bull and believes he will “fulfil the clause”.

“[Winning is] our goal and I believe in it, not only because of Max, but because it’s in our DNA that we want to win,” he added.

“We are on track and I think we can fulfil the clause.”

Marko’s statement comes despite Red Bull principal Christian Horner claiming there is not a way for Verstappen to get out of his contract early.

Speaking last October, Horner told ServusTV: “There is no such clause in his contract.

“The contracts between the driver and the team are private, but there is definitely no engine-related clause in Max’s contract.

“He is competitive. He feels very comfortable in the team and believes strongly in the Honda program. I think he also sees that Honda has brought forward the engine from 2022 to 2021. That is encouraging, of course.

“So we will take another step forward next year. He’s excited about this, and he still has a long way to go until 2022.”

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