Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has slammed McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown for speculating that the Silver Arrows will replace their current driver line-up and sign Max Verstappen and George Russell for 2021.
In late March, just a few days ahead of the 2021 season-opener in Bahrain, Brown said: “I think you will see Max [Verstappen] and George [Russell] there in 2022.
“You have Max’s experience and youth, you have George’s youth. If I am Mercedes that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years,” he added.
In an interview this week, Wolff dismissed Brown’s comment and hit out at him.
“Brown is like Christian Horner. They just spread sh*t. I think Zak wanted to give Christian one with it,” the Austrian said.
Does A Verstappen-Russell Line-Up Make Sense For Mercedes?
The Silver Arrows’ two drivers will be out of contract at the end of 2021 unless they sign an extension during this season, with both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas only agreeing one-year deals ahead of the new campaign.
Red Bull ace Max Verstappen is currently one of the most in-demand drivers on the F1 grid – and Horner has said he believes he will be near the top of Mercedes’ list should they decide to bring on a new driver for next season.
George Russell is another driver who has been strongly linked with a move to Mercedes, and it seems certain he will drive for the serial Champions at some point.
However, fielding Russell and Verstappen at the same time could be an issue for Mercedes, as although it would unquestionably give them one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid, it could lead to a similar level of intra-team rivalry and competition that we saw when Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were team-mates.
Wolff has already made clear that he wants to avoid a repeat of such tensions – and in November, he said he believes that a Verstappen-Hamilton driver line-up “would create unnecessary Star Wars” within the team.
So, it looks unlikely that Mercedes will sign both Verstappen and Russell for 2022, but the odds of at least one of them joining the Silver Arrows next year are certainly very high.