Max Verstappen ‘getting close’ to Mercedes deal as pundit blasts ‘Horner show’

Max Verstappen 'getting close' to Mercedes deal as pundit blasts 'Horner show'

Max Verstappen is ‘getting close’ to agreeing a deal with Mercedes for next year, according to former Sky Sports pundit Johnny Herbert. The Dutchman has been linked with a potential move to the Silver Arrows amid the ongoing internal struggles at Red Bull, stemming from the Christian Horner saga which has engulfed the team in recent weeks.

Horner was recently cleared by Red Bull following allegations of inappropriate behaviour, which were made by a female employee to the team’s parent company in Austria. She has since taken up the matter with the FIA after lodging a complaint to the governing body and is expected to appeal Red Bull’s decision to clear Horner of any wrongdoing.

The saga has contributed to increased tensions within the team, with Verstappen’s father Jos recently calling for Horner to be relieved of his duties. The future of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has also been called into question amid reports suggesting that Verstappen has a break clause in his contract that would allow him to leave if the 80-year-old departs.

Herbert, who previously worked as a pundit for Sky Sports, has now claimed that Verstappen is ‘close’ to agreeing a deal with Mercedes while calling for a quick end to the ‘Horner show’ at Red Bull.

Speaking to The Sun, Herbert said: “It’s not a good thing for F1 with the whole thing going on and the belated heat on it and they’re very close to pushing [Verstappen] out of the team. I’ve heard they are getting quite close with the deal with Mercedes.

“It seems like a stupid thing to do. Their biggest asset is not the Christian Horner show. It’s not about the Christian Horner show, it’s about the Max Verstappen show as he is the one winning all these races and championships for Red Bull.

“It would be crazy for Max to leave because of the situation. Jos [Verstappen] has said it will be very destructive and rip it apart and I think it’s gone on for far too long. In some respects, Christian should really think about it and step aside.”

There is currently no sign that Horner, who has consistently denied the allegations that were made against him, will leave Red Bull any time soon. Chalerm Yoovidhya, who owns 51 per cent of the Red Bull company, is thought to be fully supportive of the 50-year-old and is not planning on making a change as things stand.

Speaking at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Horner insisted that it was time to ‘draw a line’ under the saga which has cast a dark cloud over Red Bull since the turn of the year.

“Obviously there’s been an awful lot of coverage surrounding this but one has to go back to the basis that a grievance was raised, it was investigated, and it was dismissed,” he said. “Obviously it’s been of great interest to different elements of the media for different reasons. I think it is time now to draw a line under it.”