Max Verstappen says he is focused on the season at hand with Red Bull and "not really thinking" about a potential opportunity to join Mercedes next year if Lewis Hamilton retires from F1.
The one-year deal signed by Hamilton earlier this year has left pundits with more questions than answers regarding the Mercedes driver's future in F1 and sparked a wave of speculation linking Verstappen to the championship winning team should the Briton decide to sail into the sunset at the end of the season.
Even Red Bull team boss Christian Horner chimed in on Verstappen's 2021 prospects, suggesting his driver would likely be at the top of Mercedes' short list of potential Hamilton successors.
However, the Dutchman is showing little interest in discussing the future, insisting his focus is on here and now rather than what may happen at the end of the year over at Mercedes.
"At the end of the day, I don’t know what Lewis is going to do," Verstappen said following the launch this week of Red Bull's RB16B. "But I just focus on myself, and I’m very focused on this year and trying to make it a success.
"It’s still early in the season, with only basically a shakedown, so those kind of things I’m not really thinking about at this stage."
The prospect of Red Bull bringing Honda's engine program under the team's roof from 2022 could lead to the Milton Keynes-based outfit eventually developing its own power unit when F1's new engine cycle begins at the start of 2025.
But Verstappen claims Red Bull's power unit plans are also not at the forefront of his thoughts right now.
"It’s exciting, but at the same time, I’m also not too focused on it at the moment," he said.
"We are living in the moment, trying to have a good season first of all this year, and the smart people in the background will handle those kind of things with the engine."