Toto Wolff reveals Max Verstappen house visit during Mercedes negotiations

Sam Cooper
Toto Wolff and Max Verstappen.

Toto Wolff and Max Verstappen.

Toto Wolff has revealed he twice met with Max Verstappen and his representatives over a potential move to Mercedes.

In 2014, a young Verstappen was one of the hottest prospects having made his way through the various karting series.

His surname of course carried weight but soon Verstappen’s performances had made some of the biggest Formula 1 teams take note.

As he was competing in Formula 3, Wolff revealed that Verstappen and his father Jos twice visited him in order to discuss a potential move to Mercedes.

“I spoke to Jos and Huub Rothengatter [Jos Verstappen’s manager during his F1 career] when they came to my office in Brackley and that must have been when Max was in karting or the end of his karting days [in 2013] just before Formula 3 [in 2014],” Wolff told ESPN.

“And then we spoke again when Max and Jos visited me in my house in Vienna. We spent a few hours discussing his future.”

The lack of a sister team meant Wolff and Mercedes ultimately missed out on the future World Champion with Verstappen opting to join Red Bull where he remains to this day.

Wolff admitted he regrets missing out on Verstappen but that it simply was not an option at the time.

“Do I regret missing out on Max? Certainly,” the Austrian said. “But it wasn’t an option back in the day.

“We had two drivers that I was extremely happy with, in Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis [Hamilton], and when Nico left [at the end of 2016], Valtteri [Bottas] was then the option and Max wasn’t even available.”

As for a mouthwatering potential combination of Hamilton and Verstappen, Wolff is not so sure it would have worked out.

“Would Max and Lewis have functioned? Maybe not,” Wolff pondered.

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“And Lewis is a Mercedes guy since forever, so that hard question I never needed to ask myself for the organisation. Everything happens for a reason.

“But I had two drivers in the seats, no deal with a junior team, so it was clear that the option with Toro Rosso was what they needed to do and they did well.

“After that we always had friendly contact but never discussing driving.”

Wolff did defend his decision by saying at the time, Verstappn was not setting the Formula 3 world alight.

“Back in the day I think there wasn’t huge hype around Max, because Max and Van Amersfoort weren’t winning the championship that year,” Wolff said. “Esteban [Ocon] won in a more competitive car.

“You can only say when someone grows in Formula One and matures that he is a true world champion — an outstanding one. Before we had Lewis and then Michael Schumacher and before that [Ayrton] Senna.

“Who is the next one? Was it clear that Max would step into these shoes? It wasn’t clear back then.”