Niki Lauda says Mercedes never negotiated with Max Verstappen this year.

F1 sensation Verstappen was critical of Red Bull earlier in 2017, but ultimately signed a lucrative new contract taking him through to late 2020.

It was believed the Dutch camp managed to push Verstappen’s salary into the range of $25-35 million per year by holding talks with Mercedes.

But team chairman Lauda insisted: “We never made a proposal to Max.

“I have a good relationship with Helmut Marko as we often talk and fly together. Today we talked about Verstappen and I told him that they could have saved a lot of money, since we never entered negotiations with him,” he told Servus TV.

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