McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown insisted he was not trying to stir the pot after saying he expects Mercedes to sign Max Verstappen and George Russell as its driver line-up for 2022.
Mercedes has both drivers out of contract at the end of this season following Lewis Hamilton’s decision to only sign a one-year deal. Verstappen also has certain performance-related clauses that could lead him to become available, and Brown believes pairing the Red Bull driver with Russell is the most likely move.
“That’s my opinion — I have no insight as to whether that’s actually going to happen,” Brown said. “But given George’s relationship with Mercedes and he’s out of contract at the end of the year. You have Lewis on a one-year contract and Max, who I believe is a free agent at the end of the year. It seems to me that would be the logical choice for Mercedes
“Whether that actually happens or not… I’m not trying to stir it, that’s just kind of what looks like would happen to me. I think that would be a common-sense move for Toto (Wolff) to make but I have no insight that that will be what happens.”
McLaren already has one of its seats already confirmed for 2022 in Daniel Ricciardo, who has replaced Carlos Sainz this season. Team principal Andreas Seidl says the early signs have been encouraging in terms of how the Australian works with the team but ultimate performance over the opening few races is what he is keen to see.
“Everything we have seen so far from Daniel is exactly what we expected from a guy who has 10 years of experience in Formula 1, who is a proven race winner and who has also seen different teams already,” Seidl said. “But as always the important thing is — and that’s why we were keen to get Daniel on board — performance on track in qualifying and the way he goes racing.
“I’m really looking forward now that we finally get back on track starting the first race weekend of the season. I think it’s better you ask me the question again in maybe five or six races, but very happy with everything we have seen so far with how Daniel is working with Lando (Norris), with how he is working together with the team, with all the positivity he is bringing with him as a person, so all good.”