Lewis Hamilton tipped to be replaced by Max Verstappen at Mercedes

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Should Lewis Hamilton leave Mercedes at the end of his latest contract, their ideal marquee replacement would be Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

That is according to Verstappen’s boss himself Christian Horner.

Hamilton, the highest-paid driver in F1, failed to commit his long-term future to Mercedes recently with his latest contract expiring next year.

Understandably, it has left many wondering whether this means Hamilton is due to walk away from the Silver Arrows after eight years. Should Hamilton decide on a fresh challenge, Red Bull chief Horner suspects that Mercedes would want to make his man Verstappen the new poster boy for the company.

Horner said, as per The Sun: "I am sure that should Lewis decide to stop, then Max will naturally be the driver at the top of the list.

"Mercedes also have George Russell and other drivers available to them.

"It is all down to relationships and us having a competitive car and there are no guarantees for 2022.

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"It is a complete clean sheet of paper so if there is going to be a significant mix-up of the order, one would assume it will come with that big regulation change.

"The reality is, that yes of course, as there has always been, there is an element of performance-related clauses to Max's contract.

"It is a binary performance at a certain measurement in time.

"As with all these things, it is not about forcing a driver that doesn't want to be there."

Although it appears that a reluctant Horner would not stand in Verstappen’s way should the opportunity of a switch arise, he seems fairly optimistic that the Dutchman would want to remain where he is.

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Red Bull are planning for the future with construction of their own engines set to get underway in 2022 after taking over the Honda UK base in Milton Keynes, and Horner is under the impression Verstappen is excited about the project ahead.

He continued; "The relationship with Max is very strong, he believes in the project, in what we are doing, he sees the investment that Red Bull is making.

"He believes in the people within the team and that work within the team, so I am confident that we won't need to refer to any contractual clauses.

"It will be down to us to deliver a competitive car. That is what he wants and that is what we want, so we are in an identical situation."

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