Max Verstappen to Mercedes joke cracked by Silver Arrows at US GP

F1 preview: A lap at the United States Grand Prix

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Many F1 fans may have done a double take when they spotted on social media that the official account for Mercedes had “confirmed” Max Verstappen’s move to the team. But a closer look revealed that they were, of course, joking about bringing their rivals’ star driver on board.

With Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton a long way ahead of the rest of the field in the drivers’ standings, there’s little doubt any team would love to have both of them on their books and raking in the points.

But they are rivals, going toe-to-toe in a winner-takes-all fight for the 2021 drivers’ title while also hoping to push their respective teams to success in the constructors’ championship.

Verstappen, 24, has been involved with Red Bull for many years and is currently tied down with the team until the end of the 2023 season.

It’s hard to imagine that deal won’t be extended, given the relationship he has with his team and the amount of trust and faith placed in him by the Red Bull hierarchy from such a young age.

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But that didn’t stop those on the Mercedes social media team from taking a perfect opportunity to joke about poaching the Dutchman at the United States Grand Prix.

A photo circulated on Twitter of a car spotted near the circuit in Texas, which was made by Mercedes but had Red Bull livery and Verstappen’s number 33 on the side.

The official Mercedes F1 Team account posted the photo with the simple caption: “Max to Mercedes. Confirmed.”

The joke amused thousands of F1 fans, many of whom replied with their own – such as one user who posted a photoshopped image of Verstappen wearing a Mercedes racing suit.

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And another took the opportunity to poke fun back at the Silver Arrows, with an old photo of team principal Toto Wolff wearing a racing suit with a large Red Bull sponsor logo on the torso.

While Verstappen is not actually joining Mercedes, they will have a new driver on their roster from next season.

George Russell will be replacing Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton’s team-mate, stepping up from Williams as the Finn embarks on a new chapter of his career with Alfa Romeo.

Meanwhile, it is Red Bull driver Alex Albon who has been confirmed as Russell’s replacement at Williams, with the British-Thai racer returning to the sport after a year out to line up alongside Nicholas Latifi.

There will only be a maximum of one more driver move ahead of the 2022 season, given that 19 of the 20 seats on the grid have already been confirmed.

The one still up in the air is the question of Bottas’ team-mate at Alfa Romeo.

Kimi Raikkonen has already confirmed his retirement from the sport, meaning the team will be replacing one flying Finn with another.

But Antonio Giovinazzi’s future with the team is still up in the air, given he is yet to fully realise his potential.

Ferrari are supposedly keen for the Italian to be given one more year to show his abilities in F1, but would likely also be content if Alfa Romeo opted for one of their other development drivers instead.

The likes of Callum Ilott, Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman are all potential contenders if the team does decide to go with two new drivers in 2022.

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