Following the incredible rise of Max Verstappen and his most recent win at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix yesterday, many people have been questioning just what the youngster is capable of.
One very good question that has been highlighted repeatedly is just what Verstappen could achieve if he were in a Mercedes F1 car, instead of his fabled Red Bull one.
Before we dive any deeper into the rise of the Dutch driver, it is important to note this Mercedes team that he is having to contend with.
Mercedes at the minute are clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the F1 game and having two of the best drivers in the world in the seats of their cars helps quite a fair bit.
This Mercedes partnership of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton is one of the best the world of F1 has ever seen, and when you put them in the best cars in the business, and surround them with one of the best teams, many would consider it curtains.
Despite this, Verstappen clearly has other ideas as he currently sits second in the standings, ahead of Bottas following his big win yesterday.
Red Bull and his first moments of magic
Red Bull are blessed to have one of the brightest young stars in the franchise, however, it is almost inevitable that a dream move at the end of Verstappen’s contract is on the cards at some point in the future.
In terms of money and power in the racing world, Red Bull are getting there, but they just simply cannot compete with the likes of Mercedes at this moment in time.
Sebastian Vettel’s dominance from 2010-2013 put the team on the radar, however, they are still not quite competing with the big boys.
It is also important to remember that Red Bull were only founded back in 2005, a mere stain on the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.
Despite this, and even against the faster and better Mercedes cars, Verstappen has proved time and time again that he is an elite driver, and a forced to be reckoned with.
Potentially one of his greatest performances for Red Bull came back in 2016 when he was at the tender age of just 19 years old.
It is always said in F1 that driving well in the rain separates the great from the good, and Verstappen proved that he was one to keep an eye on with a mesmerising performance.
In fact, his performance was so good back on that rainy day in 2016, that it was compared to the great Michael Schumacher’s performance at the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix.
In the last 16 laps, the Dutchman managed to climb up 11 places claiming himself third, and a place on the podium.
That performance at the China Grand Prix
Verstappen was back at it again with another special performance just a year later with another tantalising performance at the China Grand Prix.
The then 20-year-old was not driving well in qualifying and only managed 16th position, but the very first lap of the race saw him leapfrog from 16th to seventh in dramatic fashion.
Verstappen finished the Chinese Grand Prix with another podium finish, ending a quite unbelievable race for the young Dutchman.
Can Verstappen challenge for the Championship with Red Bull?
Verstappen currently sits second in the rankings for the Drivers’ Championship this season, however, is quite a way behind leader Hamilton.
Red Bull’s Verstappen is on 77 points, and Mercedes’ Hamilton is 30 points ahead on 107 points.
Baring this in mind, it is almost inevitable that Hamilton will win the Championship for the seventh time in his career this season, equalling Schumacher for most Championship wins.
Hamilton has also shown no sign of slowing down as, if he does end up winning it all this season, it will be four in a row for the British driver.
When up against the likes of Hamilton and Bottas, Verstappen has shown that he is as good as them on numerous occasions, again proving it yesterday by beating them both despite not having pole position.
Red Bull as a team in general are also no stranger to success, as Sebastian Vettel had his period of dominance winning four Championships in a row.
Whether Verstappen could be the next Vettel is a debate for another day, however, he has proven that he can compete with the big boys of the F1 world.
If Red Bull keep the same successful team around him and he happens to find some form, who knows what’s around the corner for the young Dutchman.
Despite this, the same question will linger unless the move actually happens: ‘How successful would Max Verstappen be if he made a move to Mercedes?’
The dream move to Mercedes
Despite currently showing no interest in a move to a different team, when offered the move to Mercedes, few turn it down.
Hamilton was originally with McLaren before making the big money move to Mercedes, where he has evidently thrived and become one of the greatest of all time.
It is hard not to argue the point that Verstappen is showing similar potential to a young Hamilton.
Hamilton was 28 when he moved to Mercedes and has won five titles since he has been with them, proving that there is still plenty of time left for Verstappen if he chooses not to join them at this moment in time.
Verstappen is only 22 years of age, so still has six years left before he reaches the age Hamilton was when he made his move to Mercedes.
Like previously mentioned, Mercedes are at the top of the F1 world, and drivers are always attracted to the best team and cars, meaning surely the thought must be at the back of Verstappen’s mind, when he occasionally sees the boys in white and blue come racing past him.
If the 22-year-old did make the move, it is hard to argue that he would not win a Championship, it is almost inevitable with the cars and team he would be provided with.
It’s clearly not all about the team and the car, the driver has to back themselves and Verstappen has expressed his confidence consistently in numerous interviews.
In one interview with drivetribe.com back in 2017 when he was first emerging on the scene, Verstappen was full of confidence and told them: “In the end, age is just a number, the Red Bull Driver programme prepares you well. I feel like I am ready and I feel like I belong in Formula One.
“I’ve been chosen because Toro Rosso and Red Bull believe in me and I aim to repay them by not letting them down. If I didn’t think I was good enough, if Red Bull didn’t think I was good enough, I wouldn’t be in Formula One.
“Some people have said that to step in to Formula One after just one season of car racing is too soon, but I want to prove those people wrong.”
With that mindset, the Mercedes team around him, and driving in the Mercedes car, it is almost unthinkable that Max Verstappen would not win a Drivers' Championship.
Despite Bottas clearly being one of the top drivers in the world, there comes a point where the youth have to break through and if one of the Mercedes team had to go, you feel like it would be the Finnish driver.
If a youthful Verstappen and an experienced Hamilton teamed up, it really would be over for the rest of Formula 1 you must feel.
This would also be a great move for Mercedes as not only will they be getting one of the most exciting prospects in the world, they will also give him a chance to team up with one of the greatest to ever get in a Formula 1 car.
This would only make Verstappen better as he would be learning from the best, and also have an unbelievable team around him.
Although currently looking like a shot in the dark, this would very clearly be a great move for Mercedes and would allow them to potentially have another future numerous-time world champion.
What is in the near future for Max Verstappen?
Looking forward to next season, it is looking almost certain that Verstappen will stay with Red Bull.
Although not making the move to Mercedes like what has been mentioned, this could be a blessing in disguise as it could give the youngster that extra season of experience that he needs to really push on and solidify his world class status.
That extra season of experience could also grab the attention of Mercedes, as if he comes in top three again next season, surely a big move will be more than on the table.
If Mercedes do come knocking, it would surely be hard for the Dutchman to turn them down.
Despite all the speculation as to what he might do, one thing is almost for certain: Max Verstappen would win a Drivers’ Championship with Mercedes.
- Hamilton levels Schumacher's podium record
- Vettel to Racing Point is 'done and dusted'
- 10 times Vettel has proven he's finished as a top driver