FORMULA One world champion Max Verstappen does not intend to leave Red Bull despite some team-internal problems and speculation linking him with Mercedes, reported German news agency (dpa).

“From my side, I’m very happy with where I’m at and we want to keep it that way,“ Verstappen said on Thursday ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Verstappen has been considered a top candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes once the seven-time champion leaves for Ferrari next year.

There was also speculation about his future in connection with the affair around team principal Christian Horner who was cleared in an internal probe over alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a female team employee who has since been suspended. Messages allegedly between Horner and his accuser were later leaked to leading F1 figures and the media.

Verstappen has a Red Bull contract until 2028 but can reportedly leave should team adviser Helmut Marko, reportedly a Horner adversary, no longer be around.

The triple world champion was also asked whether he could imagine driving for Aston Martin who from 2026 will be powered by engines from Honda, the current Red Bull suppliers.

“I have a contract with Red Bull until 2028. After that, I first want to see if I actually want to continue,“ Verstappen said.

Verstappen enters the Suzuka weekend coming off his first race retirement in two years owing to a brakes issue in Austria, where Ferrari celebrated a one-two from Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

That ended his run of nine victories in a row but Verstappen is confident that the problem has been addressed now.

“We saw already some signs on Saturday when things were not looking how they should have done,“ Verstappen said.

“In hindsight, you can say it was coming from the brake calliper but we couldn’t find any fault with the car, but in a way, when you have a fault with the build specification, it’s a bit worse. We’ll move on and learn from it that it doesn’t happen again. Normally it shouldn’t.”

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