Toto Wolff issues Mercedes update on Max Verstappen as Hamilton’s seat remains open

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on the press conference couch

Max Verstappen had been linked to Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes seat

Mercedes are not currently talking to Max Verstappen about a potential race seat with Toto Wolff insisting their focus is solely on improving the car.

Although Wolff spent the early part of the season courting Verstappen in the wake of the Christian Horner investigation, of late the Austrian has gone quiet.

There are ‘no’ Max Verstappen’s talks says Toto Wolff

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Mercedes’ hunt for a replacement driver for Lewis Hamilton continues with the team’s shortlist reportedly reduced to two drivers; triple World Champion Verstappen and Mercedes’ junior driver Kimi Antonelli.

But with Verstappen under contract with Red Bull, and insisting more than once that he’s not going anywhere any time soon, it seems Wolff has given up in his pursuit of the Dutchman.

Asked after the Spanish Grand Prix whether Mercedes are speaking with the Dutchman, Wolff told media including PlanetF1.com: “No, there’s no talks taking place at that stage because I think we need to look at ourselves and improve the car.”

And that’s exactly what Mercedes have been doing of late, George Russell grabbing the team’s first Grand Prix podium in Canada before Hamilton made it two in two races in Spain.

Wolff sidestepped the question on whether Mercedes’ improvement had come too late to entice Verstappen over to Brackley.

“I think we just need to continue to improve and look at ourselves,” he replied.

“The most important thing is as a team with our drivers, Lewis and George, we’ve just got to get better and hopefully consolidate our ability to be on the podium, and at a certain stage be able to win races on our own.

“And if you have a good car, good drivers will want to come.”

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Toto Wolff denies Kimi Antonelli deal

With Verstappen out of the running to replace Hamilton, a report in Germany claimed Antonelli was not only the favourite to take the Mercedes seat but had in fact signed a deal.

According to RTL, it is a done deal.

Wolff denied this, adamant that “no driver decision has been made. I said we want to keep this decision as long as possible because who knows what happens.”

Speaking earlier in the Barcelona weekend, Wolff also refuted suggestions the FIA’s decision to grant discretionary allowance for drivers under the age of 18 to race in Formula 1 meant “nothing”, amidst rumours he could replace Logan Sargeant at Williams before the season is over.

Christian Horner responds to Wolff’s ‘not talking’ claim

One person who is not too fazed about Wolff’s claim that he’s not speaking with Verstappen is the 26-year-old’s current team boss, Christian Horner.

The Briton has been adamant from the very start of the rumours that Verstappen will not be going anywhere.

It’s a stance he reiterated in Spain.

“I’m very clear where Max is going to be next year which is here,” he said before asking: “Is Toto still talking about it? Is he? What did he say?”

Told Wolff said they’re not talking, Horner quipped: “He said there were no talks? So they’re talking but they’re not talking!”

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