‘I’d love to have him’ – Toto Wolff makes clear public Max Verstappen 2025 admission

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Mercedes badge

Christian Horner is "certain" Max Verstappen stays at Red Bull.

Toto Wolff would “love” to sign Max Verstappen as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement, but admits Mercedes’ car is not competitive enough to lure him away from Red Bull.

As Red Bull’s off-track drama continues to dominate the headlines instead of Verstappen’s victories, it has been suggested the Dutchman could leave Red Bull at the end of this season.

Toto Wolff would love to sign Max Verstappen but…

Even Verstappen opened the door to sensationally leave the team when he told the media after Friday’s qualifying in Saudi Arabia that if Helmut Marko is ousted, that would be the “crazy” that sees him also walk away from the team.

But while that threat was rendered null and void 24 hours later when Marko confirmed, after he met with Red Bull GmbH’s higher-ups, that he wasn’t going anywhere; the ongoing strife at Red Bull has Mercedes on high alert.

Wolff, though, concedes they need to improve their car if they hope to entice Verstappen over to Mercedes to replace the Ferrari-bound Hamilton.

“I’d love to have him, but first we need to sort out our car,” he said after the Saudi Arabian GP. “First, we owe it to George [Russell] and Lewis to improve the car and give them equipment that is good before dreaming about the future next year.

“Like I said before, a driver will always try to be in the fastest possible car. That gives you the best chances of winning races and championships and this is where Max is at the moment.

“But Max is also … Jos and Max and Raymond [Vermeulen, Verstappen’s manager] are also people who are very straight, sometimes uncomfortably straight, and I think that’s something they will make up their mind [on].

“But I think fundamentally a racing driver is calibrated to be in the best car.”

“Let’s word it like this,” he added, “I think this is a decision that Max needs to take but there is no team up and down the grid that wouldn’t do handstands to have him in the car.”

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The team boss reiterated that he’s in no hurry to sign Hamilton’s replacement with reports that teen sensation and Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli could be the team’s bold choice.

“I think we are going to wait, there’s a few interesting options,” Wolff explained.

“The more we are able to assess how the season pans out – young drivers against slightly older ones – that’s not going to be a decision which we want to take in the next few weeks, rather a few months depending on where it goes.”

The Austrian refused to get drawn into whether Red Bull, now with two wins from two races despite the off-track drama, are their own biggest threat in this year’s championship.

“Well, at the moment, it doesn’t look like they’re pushing that button because they finished first and second into the distance but these things can have a lag,” he said.

“I think we need to concentrate on ourselves. What is it we need to do to give our drivers the best possible car, because it’s not the drivers that are the problem, it’s a machine that doesn’t perform that we believe it should.”

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