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Toto Wolff in ‘simple minds’ jibe at Horner over Max Verstappen

The Mercedes boss continued his mind games with a coded message to Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

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Toto Wolff has aimed a thinly-veiled swipe at Christian Horner by suggesting only ‘simple minds’ believe Max Verstappen would stay at Red Bull simply because they have the fastest car.

The Mercedes boss has made no secret of his attempts to woo Verstappen into joining the team in 2025, declaring the Dutchman is their top target to replace the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen insists he is happy with Red Bull but has not ruled out leaving the team before the expiry of his £40million-a-year contract, having threatened to walk away as recently as the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix if Helmut Marko was sacked.

F1 2024 Chinese GP winner Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
F1 2024 Chinese GP winner Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“For Max, there are so many factors that play a role for for a driver joining,” Wolff said, speaking to select members of the press after the Chinese Grand Prix, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“Clearly, when you look at it from the most rational point of view, you can see that’s the quickest car in the hands of the quickest driver. But I don’t think that this is the only reason you stay where you are.

“I think for, let’s say, simple minds, that might be the only reason why you stay in a car and and that’s it. But maybe there are more depths to some people that consider other factors, too. And I think that Max has more depth in that respect.”

Wolff’s cryptic swipe at Horner

Wolff’s “simple minds” remark could be seen as a reference to Red Bull supremo Horner’s comments, after he previously rubbished suggestions Verstappen could leave the team while he is in the “fastest car”.

“We’ve achieved a lot together. He’s committed to an agreement to 2028. From the team’s side, from Max’s side, we are determined to build on the success we’ve achieved already,” Horner said in March. “Those 55 victories have all come in Red Bull cars, all of the podiums have come in Red Bull racing cars. We are determined to build on that and hopefully add many more in the future.”

It would be a surprise move for the 26-year-old to leave Red Bull behind, though, when is dominating almost every race. He has won four out of five races this season, following from his record of 19 wins from 22 races in 2023.

But Wolff believes Verstappen’s decision could be influenced by other factors, which is likely to be a reference to the hostility that surfaced between Horner and Verstappen’s father, Jos, in March.

“Are we here to convince him? I don’t think it’s a matter of convincing. Max knows motor racing better than anyone, and he will take decisions that he feels are good for him, and I think a few factors play a role,” Wolff added.

“He’s the one that’s going trigger some more domino stones to fall and afterwards. But everybody is waiting for what he’s going to do.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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