Mercedes is fully committed to Verstappen’s arrival

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It has been rumbling within Red Bull for months that three-time world champion Max Verstappen could potentially leave the dominant Milton Keynes-based side. The Dutchman still has a contract until the end of 2028, but that contract has several clauses.

For example, RacingNews365 was able to report earlier that one of those clauses has to do with whether or not Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko will stay on. This clause and a performance clause regarding Red Bull Powertrains’ new engines mean that Toto Wolff is opening the door wide for Verstappen at Mercedes.

In conversation with De Telegraaf, he once again loudly repeated his dream to sign Verstappen as Lewis Hamilton’s successor. “It is a great opportunity. And a few months ago I did not expect that this opportunity would be there at all,” admitted Wolff.

“As Lewis’ replacement, I think there is only a small group of drivers who are interesting for us. Among them are some drivers who are not going to make any rash decisions.

“Max Verstappen will also not decide sometime in the next few weeks where his future lies. There are options for drivers for the very short term, but also for the longer term. At Red Bull – let me put it this way – a certain situation has arisen. Therefore, Max will presumably also go to see how that situation develops.”

Wolff acknowledges that there is no measure on Verstappen, but does not want to compare him to Hamilton: “I find it very difficult to compare them. They are also at a different stage in their careers. When Lewis has a good car, he is incredibly strong. But if you look at Max’s last two years, there’s no one that even comes close to him.”

Wolff admits 2021 ‘mistakes’

In 2021, Red Bull and Mercedes were engaged in all out war for the title fight, which included hard-fought off-track confrontations. Wolff regularly drew the ire of Jos Verstappen and vice versa. According to the Mercedes team principal, that cold is out of the air.

“Jos and I are the same age. I think we have always had respect for each other and we also have the same kind of humor. I think the most important thing is that we both don’t like b******t. Jos knows more about racing than I do, and what about Max. Maybe I know a little more about running an organisation again.”

Wolff continued: “Looking back on that whole year, it’s clear that I made some mistakes. In the way I handled some things. I can’t reverse that. But Max, Jos and I have talked about it and everything has been pronounced.”

The door at Mercedes is wide open and Wolff is in no hurry to make a quick decision regarding the replacement for Hamilton. His signal is more than clear: on Verstappen, Mercedes wants to wait.

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