Mercedes Plotting Red Bull Triple Swoop

Mercedes Plotting Red Bull Triple Swoop
Mercedes Plotting Red Bull Triple Swoop

Toto Wolff is not ruling out a scenario in which Max Verstappen, Dr Helmut Marko and even Adrian Newey all switch from Red Bull to Mercedes.

On the track, Red Bull’s 2024 season could not have started any more dominantly. When asked if the Red Bull-Verstappen combination could win every single grand prix this year, Wolff answered: “At least I hope that’s not the case.”

Off the track, however, it’s been dire for Red Bull, as team boss Christian Horner’s private life and a clear power struggle at the dominant F1 team broke into the public and media.

Predictably, Red Bull’s rivals are now pouncing, with Italian reports suggesting several key engineers have been targeted for recruitment by Ferrari.

But the situation could be even more beneficial for Mercedes, given that Wolff could offer Max Verstappen an escape route because of Lewis Hamilton’s looming departure.

F1 legend Gerhard Berger said recently that one potential outcome for Red Bull is that “Horner stays, Marko and Newey quit, and Max goes to Mercedes”. Marko even called that scenario “an interesting variant”.

When asked for his thoughts on that scenario, Mercedes team boss Wolff told Osterreich newspaper: “I’m just saying that if Horner stays, there are exciting possibilities.

“Ultimately, it’s about Horner’s personality,” he added, “but as I’ve said, I only read about what happens internally at Red Bull in the media.”

If Verstappen is pushed to the exit door, however, it’s at least conceivable that Newey – Formula 1’s most respected technical design mind – could follow.

“Everything is always possible in this crazy carousel,” Wolff said. “I wouldn’t rule anything out.

“But we already have an excellent team of engineers with whom I feel comfortable and 100 percent correctly positioned, even if the laptime doesn’t reflect that at the moment.”

Wolff even admits Marko, a clear former enemy, could wind up in a silver uniform.

“It’s all about Max and his perspectives,” Wolff, who like Marko is Austrian, said. “But to be able to judge how important Marko really is for Max, I don’t know enough about the dynamic between the two.”

However, Mercedes may find itself with a financial war on its hands to secure Newey if the 65-year-old suddenly becomes available.

“They say that (Ferrari chairman John) Elkann is ready to pay any amount for Newey to go there,” said Russian F1 commentator Alexey Popov.

Sport Bild, a specialist German magazine, claims that Newey has fallen out with Horner over the scandal, with Horner reportedly sidelining Newey in recent weeks while their personal relationship has “cooled down considerably”.

Even Franz Tost, the former Alpha Tauri boss who still works for Red Bull as a part-time consultant, admitted: “Red Bull’s success stands or falls with the Verstappen-Newey combination.”

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