2025 F1 ‘silly season’ nearing boiling point

Apr.22 (GMM) Christian Horner has slammed his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff’s intensifying push to woo Max Verstappen away from Red Bull for 2025 and beyond.

The ‘silly season’ is reaching an early boiling point at present, largely because of Lewis Hamilton’s shock Ferrari move opening up his Mercedes race seat.

That’s making Carlos Sainz, set to lose his seat at Maranello, a key player – with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez also out of contract at the end of the season.

“Apparently they’re only offering Carlos a one-year contract,” 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg said on Sky Deutschland in Shanghai.

“Red Bull has made an offer to him too and yesterday I saw (Carlos) Sainz senior talking to Christian Horner, because apparently he (Horner) is being a bit stingy with the offer.”

Sainz also may not be Red Bull’s top pick, with Dr Helmut Marko declaring not once but twice over the Chinese GP weekend that he admires Lando Norris – despite his new McLaren contract.

“He is young and certainly in our focus,” the Red Bull advisor told Servus TV on Sunday.

“His father always jokes that Lando won’t win a grand prix until Max retires. I told him that he has to come to us, then he would definitely go faster.”

Perez, though, sounds increasingly confident about a contract extension.

“I think it will be one more race to find out,” the Mexican told DAZN on Sunday. “I really value being here and we have already made a lot of progress.”

As for Sainz, the longest contract being offered to the 29-year-old is at Audi-owned Sauber, where Haas’ on-form Nico Hulkenberg is also an option.

“Have you signed it yet,” Rosberg cheekily asked Hulkenberg on the Sky Deutschland broadcast on Sunday. “It’s on your table.”

Hulkenberg only made a joke in response, with reporter Peter Hardenacke later clarifying: “Nico confirmed to us again that there’s nothing to report.”

Red Bull’s Horner, meanwhile, lashed back at Wolff’s post-race comments on Sunday – as the Mercedes boss continues to campaign to pry Verstappen away from Red Bull.

His new argument is that Mercedes is history adept at preparing for sweeping new engine regulations.

“We are in a very good position for 2026 and we are ambitious with the targets we have set for batteries and fuel,” said Wolff.

“It’s easy to say ‘Max is in the fastest car’, but there are other reasons too, even for someone like Max.”

When he heard about Wolff’s comments, Horner hit back: “I think Toto has bigger problems than drivers he can’t get. It would make more sense for him to put his time and energy into his team rather than always causing trouble.”

And he cheekily concluded: “Have you heard that George Russell’s contract expires at the end of 2025?”

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