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Mercedes backs Verstappen move

Wednesday 3rd September 2014

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Mercedes backs Verstappen move

Mercedes backs Verstappen move

Mercedes insists that Max Verstappen made the right decision when he chose to join Toro Rosso for the 2015 season.

Last month, Autosport revealed that both Red Bulls and Mercedes had tabled an offer for the talented teenager, which ultimately culminated in the Dutchman signing for the former's satellite team.

Mercedes Motorsport Chief Toto Wolff, though, wasn't too upset that Verstappen chose their big rivals, citing the lack of a structured junior programme at Mercedes as the reason.

"We had discussions with Max and Jos, which started two months ago, because Jos was exploring the opportunities for his son - and I believe that Max is a great talent," Wolff told Autosport.

"We had two or three meetings, but because we are lacking a real programme, the opportunity we could have given to him would have been GP2, probably some testing in F1, and then maybe we could have had him in a Friday seat for a couple of races.

"But if we could not develop him, then the programme did not make sense. So it was all good discussions and I enjoyed it, but on the Sunday night after the Spielberg race [the Austrian GP], they got a great offer from Toro Rosso which gave them security for letting Max develop in F1.

"It is absolutely the right decision [for Verstappen] to take on this route. They have a multi-year relationship and it is something we don't have on offer, so this is how it ended.

"We have a junior programme where we support young drivers with F3 engines, and we have done that for many years.

"Some of them [young drivers] have developed into F1, and some of them have developed into the DTM, and we are very happy about that. But it is not an institutionalised programme like Red Bull has."

Wolff added that Mercedes is in the process of creating a young driver programme, but those plans have been place on hold while the battle for the Drivers' and Constructors' Championship goes on.

"We have been looking into the situation because I believe the current generation of F3 drivers are very good," Wolff added.

"We have seen that in some years you have not only one driver but a couple who have the potential to develop into F1, and here we go: this year we have a couple of them.

"That is why we have started to explore carefully the possibility of doing a junior programme. But we haven't really followed it up in a very intense way because our objective number one is to win the world championship."

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