BARCELONA (dpa-AFX) - Mercedes continues to court Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen. "The best drivers want to be in the best cars. Our job is to bring together the best package," Mercedes CEO Ola Källenius told TV channel Sky, also referring to the year 2026 with the major rule reform. "That is also an opportunity. It would also look good in silver," said Källenius on Sunday ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Mercedes is losing record world champion Lewis Hamilton, who is moving to Ferrari, after this season and needs a new driver alongside George Russell. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has a high regard for Verstappen, who celebrated his 61st career victory in Spain, and would also like to sign the world champion.

Red Bull team boss annoys Mercedes recruiters

The Dutchman still has a contract with Red Bull until the end of 2028, but after an affair involving team boss Christian Horner and accusations of inappropriate behavior from a former employee, as well as the loss of star designer Adrian Newey, Verstappen could seek a change.

That is "difficult to say", said Wolff when asked about the Verstappen personnel issue. "We are trying to concentrate on making the car faster and then the good people will want to come." Another hot candidate for a Mercedes cockpit in 2025 is 17-year-old Kimi Antonelli from the team's own young talent.

"They should concentrate on their own drivers and not ours," replied Red Bull team boss Horner, annoyed. "Max wins and is happy here. Sometimes you try to unbalance a team, but you can't change that."/mom/DP/zb