Max Verstappen was startled after receiving a message from George Russell: What’s going on?

George Russell tips Max Verstappen to quit Red Bull and doubles down on Mercedes plea

George Russell has weighed in on the debate surrounding Max Verstappen’s future amid interest from Mercedes.

George Russell would relish the chance to team up with Max Verstappen (Image: Getty)

George Russell would not be surprised if Max Verstappen quit Red Bull and spent a year away from F1 in 2026 to scope out which team could offer him the best performance moving forward. The Mercedes star also explained that he is not opposed to facing off against the three-time world champion as a team-mate.

Verstappen is contracted to Red Bull until the end of the 2028 campaign but has an exit clause linked to company advisor and close friend Helmut Marko and has recently flirted with the idea of ditching the team that he has raced for since 2016.

While he was dominating the championship in 2023, leaving the team was unthinkable, but with McLaren and Ferrari achieving parity with the reigning champions and internal relations fractured, it is now on the cards. With both of those squads having settled driver pairings, Mercedes would be the most likely landing spot for Verstappen if he was to leave Red Bull.

Discussing a potential deal between Verstappen and Mercedes, Russell doubled down on his previous claims that he would happily battle against the three-time world champion. “I wouldn’t shy away from jumping alongside Max, nor would I shy away from him jumping in with us,” he said.

“I had the biggest challenge of joining Mercedes against the greatest driver of all time statistically, in qualifying and in the race, and I performed against him, and that’s all I can do.

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“Max can take a year off for 2026 and see which the best team is. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he did that. Remember, 2026 is a lottery. So, you truly don’t know what will transpire.

Max Verstappen would have the pick of the field if he decided to leave Red Bull (Image: Getty)

“I am a loyal guy and Mercedes have given me the opportunity, but I want to be a world champion. That’s not us at the moment. But a year ago McLaren were the slowest team and now they are the quickest.”

Russell is currently full of confidence as he continues to stamp his authority on the team-mate battle with Lewis Hamilton. The 26-year-old has out-qualified the seven-time world champion in seven of the eight Grands Prix so far this year, converting that advantage into a 12-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

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