The Max Verstappen scenario leaving Carlos Sainz in the Mercedes queue

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen, Mercedes badge

Carlos Sainz is in the Mercedes' queue as Toto Wolff waits on Max Verstappen

Toto Wolff would “kick himself” if he missed the opportunity to sign Max Verstappen, according to Dutch pundit Erik van Haren, that said to be the deciding factor in Mercedes’ decision not to sign Carlos Sainz. At least not right now.

Wolff has made no secret about wanting Verstappen to race for Mercedes, with the Austrian earning Red Bull’s ire with his public courting of the triple World Champion.

Toto Wolf would ‘kick himself’ if he missed out on signing Max Verstappen

That had Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff telling Bild that Wolff should “focus on his own problems”, adding: “He has enough of those. And it also has something to do with respect when you keep talking about other teams’ personnel. That’s not appropriate.”

But while Mintzlaff is “1,000 per cent” confident Verstappen will remain a Red Bull driver, Wolff seems to believe otherwise.

Wolff thinks there are “a few factors” aside from having the fastest car on the grid that could persuade Verstappen over to Mercedes.

Declaring that Verstappen will “take decisions that he feels are good for him”, Wolff added: “I think a few factors play a role, but he’s the one that is going to trigger some more domino stones to fall in afterwards.”

One of those dominos waiting in line is Carlos Sainz.

Dropped by Ferrari even before the first race of this season, the three-time Grand Prix winner reportedly put a lucrative Audi offer on hold with the chance that he could be the one to replace the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton, in what would be a straight swap.

But Mercedes, understands, have all but closed the door on Sainz for now in the hope Verstappen could still leave Red Bull and explore his options.

How the 2025 F1 grid is shaping up

👉 The 10 drivers out of contract at the end of the F1 2024 season

👉 F1 2025 driver line-up: Who is already confirmed for the 2025 grid?

And it looks as if the team could be prepared to wait to confirm George Russell’s 2025 team-mate.

“Verstappen has no reason to leave Red Bull now,” Dutch pundit Erik van Haren told De Telegraaf. “Wolff knows that too.

“But he will kick himself if Verstappen turns out to be available in a few months.”

Should Sainz still be a free agent at that time, it could still be him that steps in the 2025 W16.

However, the team also has Formula 2 driver Kimi Antonelli waiting in the wings. The Italian is reportedly set to miss out on a Williams F1 race seat with the team strongly linked with Valtteri Bottas to be Alex Albon’s next team-mate.

That could mean either a second season in Formula 2 for the 17-year-old, who will be 18 in August, or a big leap from the feeder series to a seat at the former World Champions.

Wolff, though, doesn’t want to rush the Italian’s promotion.

“We are hyping that young man for a long time now and he will be very good and can be a great driver one day in Formula 1, but he’s 17,” he told the media including

“14 months ago, he drove an F4 car and there is so much expectation in Italy and we are a little bit guilty also about talking about him at that stage.

“And I think we should let him do his F2 thing and deliver results and not be too carried away with what could be or should be.

“You know, if you look at George, he’s won F3 and F2 in his rookie year and at the same time Kimi has delivered on those junior series and he’s in F2 now and so we’ll see.

“He’s going to be in Formula 1 one day, but let’s not rush it.”

Read next: Monaco magazine accused of Carlos Sainz ‘disrespect’ with Lewis Hamilton Ferrari cover