This month Nico Rosberg shocked the Formula 1 and motorsport world by announcing his retirement, less than a week after claiming the 2016 Formula 1 Drivers’ title.
Now there is a vacant seat at a top team. Yes there is a rule change for 2017 within Formula 1 but many will believe that Mercedes will still be one of the top teams during the 2017 season.
Almost immediately after Rosberg’s announcement many journalists, fans and others began to speculate and link drivers to the vacant seat, one such driver is current Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen.
What follows is partly a debate but also partly just a little bit of fun, as the title suggests I will be making the argument for why Christian Horner and to a certain extent Red Bull should allow Max Verstappen to leave and join Mercedes.
The main overriding reason why is that of competition. Although Nico Rosberg wasn’t the fastest, he was Hamilton’s main challenger throughout the previous three seasons and it can be said that only luck, or lack of it, prevented Rosberg mounting a better challenge against Hamilton in 2015.
It’s that competition that most of Formula 1 wants to see and in an era that has seen Mercedes dominate, it has been the in-house battle between the two drivers that has provided the main source of entertainment over the previous three seasons. If Mercedes are to continue to dominate in 2017 it would be good for the sport if Hamilton has another fierce driver alongside him in the team, Verstappen certainly suits.
To add to that Hamilton is considered to be the best driver on the grid. Verstappen himself is also considered to be a top driver already. Formula 1 would be robbed if these two drivers weren’t part of the same team. In equal machinery which is the fastest? Hamilton v Verstappen who comes out on top? It’s a question that many would like to be answered and there is no better time than in 2017.
Another is that of Max Verstappen’s career. Although it may be unhealthy to heap so much expectation on young shoulders, Verstappen does appear as an already mature racing driver, especially when it comes to race craft and outright speed. It is those talents that you want to see be rewarded with multiple Grand Prix victories and Championship challenges, and it is those things that I believe Mercedes are better placed to provide Verstappen than Red Bull.
Another reason, personally for me anyway and to expand on the previous paragraph, is that I don’t see Verstappen getting as many opportunities to challenge for the title at Red Bull as he would if he were at a Mercedes, Ferrari or even McLaren or Renault. The main reason for this is the drop in performance Red Bull had in 2014 when the new engine rules came in to place and, more importantly, their inability to find a suitable replacement for their Renault engines during the 2015 season.
So please Christian and Red Bull for the good of the sport and for the good of Verstappen’s career in the long run, set him free and allow him, in fact encourage him, to join Mercedes for the 2017 season.