In Brief

F1: Max Verstappen to Mercedes or Ferrari? Sebastian Vettel back to Red Bull?

The 2020 driver rumours are picking up pace ahead of the summer break

There’s still three races to go until Formula 1’s summer break but it seems that silly season has already started for rumours of 2020 team line-ups. 

When the Hungarian Grand Prix concludes on 4 August F1 will embark on a three-week break and negotiations will quietly take place for next season’s grid. 

In recent weeks there’s been stories about the futures of Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg, while many other drivers have also been linked with moves for 2020.

Here we look at some of the potential driver moves making the headlines today. 

Ferrari dismiss Verstappen link

Max Verstappen’s future at Red Bull Racing continues to be a talking point in the paddock especially after it was confirmed he had a break clause in his current contract.

The performance-related exit clause in his Red Bull deal could see him leave for another team in 2020. 

Verstappen, who won last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, has regularly been linked with the sport’s top two teams - Mercedes and Ferrari.     

However, Crash.net reports that any potential switch to Ferrari has been dismissed by the Italian team’s boss Mattia Binotto. He says that the Scuderia will have an unchanged line-up of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc for 2020. 

When asked about Verstappen, Binotto said the 21-year-old was “certainly not” a target. “We’ve got two drivers, we’ve got contracts in place and we are very happy,” Binotto added. “Next season our line-up is fixed and there are no reasons we why should changed. I think things are going well in that respect.”

Max to Merc?

If a potential move to Ferrari is “certainly not” on the table for Verstappen, then what about Mercedes?

Daily Express writer Luke Gardener believes that a switch to the Silver Arrows would be the best thing for Verstappen, and would also provide a challenge to Lewis Hamilton.  

Gardener writes: “Max Verstappen is the future of F1 but it’s time he moved to a car that can deliver him race wins and championships. Verstappen should want to test himself at the highest level against the very best.” 

Ferrari ‘eye’ Ricciardo and Bottas to replace Vettel

Mattia Binotto insists that Ferrari will have an unchanged line-up next year.

But according to GP Fans, citing information from F1 journalist Dan Knutson, Ferrari have “reportedly begun to plot a contingency” should Sebastian Vettel retire at the end of 2019.

On the Ferrari target list are Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel’s Red Bull return?

It’s not just retirement that Sebastian Vettel is being linked with - but also a return to Red Bull. 

Vettel won his four world titles with Red Bull and team boss Christian Horner says the German has remained in close contact despite his switch to Ferrari. 

Horner told ServusTV after the Austrian GP: “We have very nice memories of our time with Sebastian. He is part of the history of our team. 

“He has won four world championship titles and many, many races together with us. He also clinched Red Bull’s first victory in Formula 1. Of course, that’s why we have a special relationship with Sebastian.

“Even though he’s driving for Ferrari now, he’s still coming to see the mechanics more often. He knows most of the faces. 

“He’s still a friend of the team, and he was very happy with us about the result at the Red Bull Ring. There is mutual respect and friendship.”

The door is definitely open for Vettel at Red Bull - but as a driver or just a friend?

Alonso’s hint

Where would a rumours list be without mentioning Fernando Alonso?

The Spaniard “retired” from F1 last season but all year there has been speculation that the two-time world champion could make a return. 

However, Planet F1 reports that Alonso has hinted that his F1 days could be over.

When asked if he missed F1, the 37-year-old said on Instagram: “Not a lot, the chapter I had was better than my most optimistic dreams! And the same motives that made me decide not to continue, continue to be present.

“Being able to compete and trying to win in other disciplines forces me to rise to a level I didn’t have before. Very happy.”

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