Toto Wolff comments attract Max Verstappen’s attention after Japanese GP win

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Max Verstappen with insets of a grinning Toto Wolff and a Mercedes logo.

Toto Wolff has had a lot to say about Max Verstappen recently amid speculation that the World Champion could join Mercedes.

Max Verstappen has responded to Toto Wolff’s claim that nobody will catch him in the F1 2024 World Championship, claiming the Mercedes boss has said “a lot of nice things” about him lately.

In his pursuit of a fourth successive title, Verstappen led Red Bull’s third one-two finish in four races at the start of the new season in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff’s comments haven’t gone unnoticed by Max Verstappen

Despite retiring from the previous race in Australia, Verstappen already has a 13-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship and sits 18 points ahead of Charles Leclerc, the highest non-Red Bull driver in third.

Red Bull, meanwhile, currently hold a 21-point advantage over Leclerc’s Ferrari team in the Constructors’ standings.

With Verstappen finishing 20.8 seconds ahead of Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz in Japan, Wolff predicted after the race that the Dutchman will ease to a fourth World Championship in 2024.

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“No one is going to catch Max this year,” he told the media at Suzuka. “His driving and the car, just spectacular. I can see how he manages the tyres.

“Basically this season now is best of the rest,” he said of Mercedes’ prospects for the rest of the season. “That’s the fight, that’s all.”

Wolff’s latest comments come at a time when Verstappen has been heavily linked with a lucrative move to Mercedes for 2025 amid the current off-track dramas engulfing the Red Bull team.

Last month, Wolff admitted he would “love” to sign Verstappen for next season as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton, who announced in February that he will join Ferrari on a multi-year contract in 2025.

Responding to Wolff’s statement that he won’t be caught, Verstappen stressed the need to maintain a race-by-race approach – and revealed that the Mercedes team principal’s recent comments have not gone unnoticed.

Appearing in the post-race press conference at Suzuka, he said: “Lately, Toto has been really nice, saying a lot of nice things about me!

“No, I don’t know. It’s still a very long season.

“I don’t want to think about the rest of the season too much. I really want to approach it race by race.

“I know there will be tracks coming up that might not be so favourable for us, but then, of course, when we do get to tracks where we know that we can be quick, we have to really take advantage of it and score the maximum amount of points as a team and that’s what we’ll continue to try and do.

“And then, of course, I think we know that we get to tracks where maybe it’s a bit more difficult we have to try and maximise that as well, where maybe other teams can win as well.”

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