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Max Verstappen sends message on Red Bull future after topping practice

Max Verstappen has revealed he would be ready to turn down a record £130million-a-year salary in a blow to Mercedes’ pursuit of the world champion.

Team principal Toto Wolff has admitted the driver dominating Formula One is at the top of his wishlist as a replacement for Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

It was even reported ahead of Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix that the Silver Arrows had tabled an astronomical 150 million euros bid for Verstappen’s services – although senior sources close to the Mercedes camp have dismissed the story as entirely fabricated.

Asked if he had been offered a contract by Mercedes, Verstappen, a winner of four of the five rounds so far, said: “No, and even if that was the case, 150 million, money is not going to be the differentiator for me to go somewhere.”

Verstappen, who is under contract with Red Bull until 2028 and takes home close to £50m per year, continued: “I am happy with what I am earning already.

“It is about performance because if I know if I was driving for fifth or sixth, you get quite grumpy. Everyone knows it is about performance and Toto knows that, too.”

Verstappen, 26, is on course to win his fourth world championship in as many years and he will be the favorite to claim another victory in Miami on Sunday. He set the pace at Friday’s first practice, finishing 0.105 seconds clear of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

His father, Jos, had been due to attend the sixth round of the season – his first appearance in the paddock since he claimed at the opening round in Bahrain in March that Red Bull would “explode” if team principal Christian Horner remained in his post . However, the 52-year-old has since U-turned on his decision to attend.

Verstappen has won both editions staged here at the circuit which races around the Hard Rock Stadium – home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Hamilton, by contrast, is in the midst of his worst start to a season. The 39-year-old has failed to finish inside the top six this year in his uncompetitive machinery, and he crossed the line in ninth last time out in China.

“I’m really hoping that the year gets better,” said Hamilton, who has 19 remaining races in silver before he switches to red.

“I don’t want to say it can’t get worse, but I definitely think we will improve. I’m excited for the future, but right now my heart’s still with Mercedes and I really want to continue to deliver and lift them up.”