Brundle asks 'what's going on at Mercedes?' after Verstappen & Leclerc deals

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After Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc signed new deals, Martin Brundle is wondering "what's going on at Mercedes?".

While the Monegasque's future with the Scuderia was already secured, the announcement on Tuesday that Verstappen will remain at Red Bull until 2023 caught many in Formula 1 off guard.

That's because, with his contract expiring, many expected the Dutchman to be a strong option for Mercedes in 2021.

But with that possibility now off the table, the former McLaren driver queries why the German manufacturer has put themselves in a weak position.

"The Verstappen news does make my mind think 'what's going on at Mercedes' short to medium term?" Brundle told Sky Sports.

"I really would have expected one of Verstappen or Leclerc to rock up at Mercedes.

"You'd have to look at it and think that Mercedes has got to be at least the equal-best car for another two or three years with the momentum they've got, so why hasn't one of them signed up there?"

What it now means is that the Brackley-based team is largely pinning its hopes of retaining Lewis Hamilton for another year or two at least.

But Brundle explained how that outcome is actually now more likely as a result of the recent announcements.

"It leaves Lewis with reduced options, but he's still holding a lot of aces," the Briton claimed. 

"And it doesn't prevent Lewis from going to either of those two teams at all, really. It possibly would at Red Bull, but it doesn't stop the idea of a Hamilton-Leclerc line-up at Ferrari.

"But it has cut Lewis' options down if indeed he hasn't already signed with Mercedes longer term.

"Maybe the music stopped before Christmas, they all sat down and there is some embedded news we haven't heard yet."

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Another more cynical view is that Mercedes perhaps don't need to think beyond this year because they are pulling their works team out of F1, and Dutch Grand Prix boss Jan Lammers isn't ruling out that possibility.

“It is somewhat uncertain what they will do in the long term,” he told local publication F1 Maximaal. “I certainly don’t think it’s unthinkable that they’ll say ‘It was fantastic, but it’s time to do something else’.

“I think the chance of further dominance is statistically small and although they are still impressive, you can perhaps say that Mercedes has now reached the peak.”