‘If I were Max’ – Toto Wolff advises Max Verstappen on 2025 decision in Mercedes move ‘strategy’

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff, Max Verstappen, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff continues to publicly court Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen may be winning just about everything with Red Bull but Toto Wolff continues to publicly court the reigning World Champion.

According to the Mercedes motorsport boss, Verstappen has “more depths” than basing his future solely on having the quickest car on the grid.

Toto Wolff: The car is just one factor in Max Verstappen decision

Three months ago it was unfathomable to consider the possibility of Verstappen leaving Red Bull, the team with whom he broke records on his way to a hat-trick of World titles.

But despite the on-track success, cracks began to show back in February when team boss Christian Horner was investigated over allegedly inappropriate behaviour, which prompted Jos Verstappen to say Red Bull would implode if the Briton remained in charge, while Helmut Marko was also draw into the saga.

That led to speculation that Verstappen, who has called for peace more than once, could walk away from the team to escape the behind-the-scenes politics.

Wolff has done nothing to quash those headlines with the Mercedes motorsport boss continuing to publicly court the driver as he seeks a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking after the Chinese Grand Prix, the Austrian suggested that “factors” other than having the “quickest car” could play a role in Verstappen leaving Red Bull.

“There are so many factors that play a role for a driver joining,” Wolff said.

“Clearly when you look at it from the most rational point of view, you can say ‘that’s the quickest car in the hands of the quickest driver’.

“But I don’t think this is the only reason you stay where you are.

“I think for, let’s say simple minds, that might be the only reason why you stay in a car and that’s it but maybe there are more depths for some people that consider other factors too. I think that Max has that.

“In that respect, are we able to convince him? I don’t think it’s a matter of convincing.

“I think that Max knows motor racing better than anyone, he will take decisions that he feels are good for him.

“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. Everybody is waiting for what he’s going to do.”

As for when, if at all, Verstappen could move from Red Bull to Mercedes, Wolff revealed he wasn’t at that “point” of discussions with the reigning World Champion.

“You have conversations many drivers exploring new opportunities so that isn’t surprising,” said the Austrian “As for Max, we’re not at the point where we would have discussed years or stuff.”

But for now, he admits: “If I was Max I would stay at Red Bull in 2025 but I’m not Max. It’s the quickest car but there are still other factors.”

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Could Wolff use 2026 and the new regulations as a selling point?

The last time Formula 1 introduced new engine regulations it was Mercedes who came to the fore, winning seven championship doubles on the trot from 2014 to 2020.

It wasn’t until Verstappen wrestled the title away from Hamilton in 2021 that their run was curtailed.

It begs the question, can 2026’s new engine regulations hand Mercedes a march, or will the new cars see Red Bull’s reign continue?

“I don’t think that anyone can sell anything to Max, Jos and Raymond [Vermeulen, Verstappen’s manager],” said Wolff. “The combined understanding of motorsport, whether you sell well or not, is not going to change anything.

“I believe that it is a question of how they feel where the future is best for them, considering a lot of factors.

“I think we’re in a very good position for 2026, we are ambitious with the targets we set ourselves for the power unit, for the batteries, for the fuel. And and I think if we’re able to produce a decent chassis, we’re a good value proposition but who knows?”

He added: “I’m really not good at selling to be honest. I think that it is down to facts. Overstating something in order to attract someone or something isn’t the right way.

“I think we are having a development trajectory, we are we have set ourselves ambitious targets that we believe are necessary in order to perform on a strong level. But these are let’s say facts on the current understanding.

“But obviously if somehow someone from our competitors that develops a moonshot project who knows? So, I’m not good at convincing, I just say what I think it is.”

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