Toto Wolff never had ‘waste of time’ talks with Red Bull about driver move

Michelle Foster
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff on the pit wall. Bahrain February 2023.

Toto Wolff looks out into the pit lane from the Mercedes pit wall during testing. Bahrain February 2023.

Toto Wolff has denied reports he wanted to speak with Red Bull about putting Mick Schumacher in the AlphaTauri with the Mercedes boss saying it would’ve been a “waste of time”.

Earlier this month out-going AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost revealed he wanted to sign Schumacher as Yuki Tsunoda’s 2023 team-mate but that it was “decided at the highest level not to take him.”

Instead the Red Bull bosses opted to put Nyck de Vries in the car with the Dutchman yet to impress.

This led to rumours earlier this season that the Dutchman’s seat was on the line with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko conceding the driver was on a “yellow card”.

That, it has been claimed by F1-Insider, had Wolff seeking a conversation with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff about signing Schumacher should the team opt to drop De Vries.

Wolff has denied this.

“I’ve never spoken to the Red Bull management about whether Mick can get a place there,” he told Motorsport-Total.com, the Mercedes motorsport boss adding that it would’ve been a “waste of time” anyway.

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As for Red Bull’s part, Marko told the German publication: “I’m not commenting on that.”

Wolff is nonetheless still hoping that in time Schumacher returns to the Formula 1 grid with the team boss adamant that in Schumacher any team would get a “good” driver.

“To be honest, I think he was burned last year,” Wolff said. “I think whoever wants him would get a good driver.

“But in the end it’s up to the other teams to decide for themselves which drivers they want.

“I can’t tell the teams we have contracts with that they have to use our back-up driver but I think they’re missing something.”

Something that Wolff has himself seen first hand in recent weeks is Schumacher being credited with helping Lewis Hamilton and George Russell bag a double podium at the Spanish Grand Prix after the reserve driver was in the simulator into the early hours of the Saturday morning.

Calling the 24-year-old a “mature, successful and experienced Formula 1 driver” who supports Mercedes, Wolff added: “In some of the European races it is a huge advantage if he is sitting in the simulator on Friday evening and working out data for Saturday.

“Also if one of our drivers should ever have fish poisoning – or in Lewis’ case avocado poisoning – then we know that we have a great guy in the car who can drive well. But as much as I like this situation from our team’s point of view I like it so much I wish Mick could race himself.”