Toto Wolff makes it clear nobody is better than Max Verstappen for Mercedes

Toto Wolff has made it clear Max Verstappen is his first choice to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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The intrigue surrounding the future of the Mercedes seat continues to rage on. Will it be Kimi Antonelli? Will it be Carlos Sainz? Will it be Fernando Alonso? Or will it be Max Verstappen? Toto Wolff gave a clear answer on who is first in-line to ascend to Lewis Hamilton‘s throne.

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion will quit the Silver Arrows for Ferrari just months after extending his deal with the team he joined in 2013, and on early 2024 form he seems to have got that call spot on, just like he did 11 years ago when he dropped McLaren for Mercedes.

But that opened up a very interesting question: Who will take his spot? For the team principal, the answer is clear. Wolff wants Verstappen as he said: “Yes. You see what his level of performance is.

“We have a slot free, the only one in the top teams, unless Max decides he goes, then the slot is not going to be free with us anymore.”

That’s as clear an answer as you’ll get. Mercedes are waiting on one man and one man only, anyone else is simply a Plan B, C or D if Verstappen decides he doesn’t actually want to switch Milton Keynes for Brackley.

Kimi Antonelli is too young

Aged just 17, Kimi Antonelli has a lot of parallels to Verstappen such as being blessed with incredible talent, the kind that has seen him blast through karting and Formula 4 series.

In 2022, he won both Italian F4 and ADAC F4 with a combined record of 35 races, 22 wins, 21 poles, 27 podiums and 675 points as he won both championships.

He also finished eighth in UAE F4 despite only competing in eight of the 20 rounds before graduating to Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA). There, he would go on to claim the title with 300 points and five wins.

Now he’s been promoted directly to Formula 2, skipping Formula 3, and he has impressed in the early stages of that championship too leading to calls that he could actually be the one to replace Hamilton.

But Wolff, who missed out on Verstappen in 2014 and appears to have never quite got over it, insisted he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the shoulders of a teenager.

“We have a young kid that is very promising,” Wolff said to Fox Sports Australia. “I don’t want to put more extra pressure on him but it looks like he can be one of the great ones. But we also don’t want to drown him jumping so quickly in an F1 car, he’s 17.

“There are a few options that we could play with. Obviously there is Fernando [Alonso], who’s very exciting, Carlos [Sainz], very good, so there are a few ones.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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