Mercedes to continue with 2020 plans despite potential Verstappen opportunity

Max Verstappen could be available for next season, but Mercedes will continue as usual for the time being, talking to Valtteri Bottas.

Max Verstappen apparently has a clause in his Red Bull contract, allowing him to talk with other teams if he fails to win a race by the Hungarian Grand Prix at the start of August.   -  Getty Images

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff insists the team will not be distracted from its usual process of selecting a line-up by talk Max Verstappen could be available.

Reports this week claimed Verstappen has a performance clause inserted into his Red Bull contract, allowing him to hold talks with other teams if he fails to win a race by the Hungarian Grand Prix at the start of August.

This clause was later confirmed by Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen.

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However, Ferrari insisted it will not speak to Verstappen, while Mercedes has now indicated news of his availability will not change its approach to its 2020 team.

Valtteri Bottas' future is up in the air, but Wolff will talk to the Finn before considering any move for Verstappen.

"I don't know anything about [the clause]," Wolff told Autosport. "I haven't spoken to Max, to make it clear here, and I would like to continue it like we have always done in the past.

"First, we evaluate our current line-up and discuss with the drivers what their views are before really entering into a proper discussion with anybody else - and that is valid for any driver out there who can possibly bring something to the game at Mercedes.

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"But we have exciting junior drivers that merit being in F1 - Esteban [Ocon] being the one that fell through the chairs last year.

"Putting all that puzzle into place is something that I would like to do over the next few months."

Mercedes has won all eight races this season heading into Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton recording six victories and Bottas two.

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