McLaren chief opens door to Max Verstappen switch as Red Bull ace ‘top of the list’

Zak Brown is keeping an eye on the defending champion, despite McLaren having one of the strongest driver lineups on the circuit.

CEO of McLaren Racing Zak Brown acknowledged that if there was an open seat, Max Verstappen would be at the top of the list. As the unrest in his team’s camp worsens, there has been much discussion over the reigning world champion’s Red Bull future during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.

Though it seemed almost impossible a few months ago, Verstappen might leave Red Bull before his contract expires in 2028 due to ongoing internal turmoil with the defending champions. This has sparked rumors that he might leave the team that has helped him win three World Championships.

The most likely option for Verstappen, should he decide to sever ties with Red Bull, has been suggested as Mercedes. Toto Wolff was observed conversing with Jos, the Dutchman’s father, in the paddock of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Brown, the manager of McLaren, has now expressed his admiration.

Brown was questioned by CNN regarding any potential interest in the current champion. “I couldn’t be happier with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri,” he replied. Max would undoubtedly be first on my list if a seat became available, just like he would with any Formula One team, but I’m really happy with Lando [Norris] and Oscar [Piastri].”

One of the best driver lineups in the world is fielded by McLaren, and as an added benefit, both Norris and Piastri have long-term contracts. The former showed his faith in Brown and the rest of the management team by extending his contract in January, despite being strongly linked to a move to Red Bull.

Verstappen has confidence in his present employers as well. Speaking about the prospect of finishing out his current contract, he stated: “It has always been the intention to sign.” We signed for this very long in order to be here. Of course, there is also the issue of the car’s performance, which will be somewhat uncertain under the new rules starting in 2026.

“However, I signed my contract knowing that they had helped me in my career as well, right? Thus, since I truly enjoy being a part of this team, my intention is to stay with them. In addition, I’m incredibly content with the team. Therefore, there is no reason for us to leave as long as we perform.

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