Mercedes ‘sign off Max Verstappen salary and bonus’ with figure to eclipse Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes have taken a necessary step on the road to bringing Max Verstappen to the team.

Max Verstappen remains the key target for Toto Wolff and Mercedes (Image: Getty)

Mercedes have reportedly already internally approved Max Verstappen’s salary and bonus clauses, in the event that the Dutchman becomes available on the driver market. That sum is, allegedly, more expensive than the current contract of Lewis Hamilton, who is heading to Ferrari at the end of the 2024 campaign.

Hamilton put pen to paper on a two-year contract extension last summer, and that deal was valued in the region of £50million per year. Verstappen, meanwhile, is tied to a five-year deal that nets him around £40m on an annual basis, before bonus clauses are applied. The proposed move to Mercedes would hand him a considerable pay rise.

Ever since the internal relations at Red Bull became strained by the Christian Horner saga in February, Toto Wolff has been keeping a watchful eye on the situation. The Austrian needs a marquee signing to replace the Ferrari-bound Hamilton, and Verstappen would be the ideal candidate as the reigning world champion.

According to a report from Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes have already approved the salary and bonus package that would be necessary to lury Verstappen over, so if he does become available, the Silver Arrows are ready to pounce. This may, however, come at the cost of allowing Wolff to sign the most in-demand alternatives.

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Max Verstappen’s potential meeting would earn him more than Hamilton currently does (Image: Getty)

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Aside from Verstappen, the most high-profile drivers at the centre of the silly season drama are Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. However, the report suggests that Wolff is willing to risk missing out on the Spanish duo altogether to earn a shot at securing the services of Verstappen.

If Mercedes do miss out on Alonso and Sainz by holding out for Verstappen’s signature, Wolff is expected to turn to 17-year-old starlet Kimi Antonelli. The Italian is learning the ropes in Formula Two this year following a bold promotion from FRECA that saw him skip Formula Three altogether and is seen as a future world champion by the German constructor.

Wolff can forget any hopes of bringing Verstappen into the team if he can’t lay out a bulletproof plan to restore Mercedes to race-win contention. The Silver Arrows’ struggles have been exacerbated during the opening four rounds of the 2024 campaign, and they’re currently languishing down in P4 in the Constructors’ Championship.

While Mercedes have been stuck in the wake of rivals Ferrari and McLaren, Red Bull are offering Verstappen a platform from which he can challenge for his fourth consecutive Drivers’ Championship crown, and as long as that continues, it will be tough for Wolff to lure the Dutchman to Brackley.

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