However, Red Bull Racing team manager Helmut Marko stated that Verstappen has a performance clause in his contract that he could trigger to leave the team after the 2019 season if they do not give him a car that is capable of winning the championship.
Marko further heated up these rumors when he made a statement a few months later that illustrated his growing concern about Verstappen leaving, and Verstappen’s father, Jos, a former Formula 1 driver himself, even retweeted the article containing Marko’s quote.
Bottas signed a one-year contract extension with Mercedes in July of 2018, and this contract extension contains an additional one-year option that the Brackley-based team have not decided if they will pick up.
Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, is already slated to return to Mercedes for the 2020 season after signing a two-year contract extension with the team in July of 2018.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner even recently joked about the Verstappen to Mercedes rumors, suggesting that Verstappen and Hamilton becoming teammates was only an option if Hamilton left Mercedes and signed with Red Bull Racing.
Here is what Horner had to say, according to Formula 1.
“In terms of having those two in one team, I haven’t heard from Lewis either that he wants to join next year.”
Additionally, when the team confirmed that they would be replacing Pierre Gasly with Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon starting with the next race on the schedule, the Belgian Grand Prix, their statement also revealed that Verstappen is slated to return to the team next year.
Here is the part of this statement that revealed this, according to Formula 1.
“The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.”
As for Verstappen himself, nobody has performed at a higher level over the last several races. He has won two of the last four races, and he has collected a series-high 81 points during this four-race span. Hamilton’s point total of 63 during this span is the second highest.
If not for Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashing into him late in the British Grand Prix, he could be on a streak of four consecutive podium finishes after starting the season with two podium finishes in the first eight races.
Verstappen now sits in third place in the driver standings with 181 points, and he trials Bottas by just seven points for second. He has recorded 21 consecutive top five finishes going back more than one year ago.
Verstappen really has no reason to leave the team at this point.