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Toto Wolff coy on Verstappen meeting and hints Mercedes ‘observing’ F1 star

The Mercedes boss has admitted he needs to show respect in his pursuit of the Red Bull star to replace Lewis Hamilton


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff refused to be drawn on whether the team will move for Max Verstappen after denying meeting him after the Miami Grand Prix – and revealed they are in “observation mode” with one other Formula 1 driver.

Verstappen is contracted to remain with Red Bull until the end of the 2028 season and insists he is intent on staying with the team “at the moment”, having vowed to turn down a huge reported offer from the Silver Arrows.

That could change in 2025 when Lewis Hamilton leaves Mercedes, with the Brackley team looking for a replacement, while Red Bull set for a major internal shake-up following the exit of Adrian Newey.

It was rumoured that the Austrian boss had planned to meet with Verstappen and his representatives in Miami, something that was later denied by Wolff, and he admitted Mercedes need to act appropriately in their pursuit of the three-time world champion.

Max Verstappen ahead of the 2024 Miami Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen’s future remains uncertain. | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“There’s always plenty of meetings. I can’t really say about the second driver [at Mercedes]. I think we’ve talked about the possibilities,” Wolff said, speaking to the written press in Miami, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“I want to be fair to these guys [Red Bull] and not make it look like we are playing chess with humans, because we are not doing that.”

Wolff looking at Verstappen alternative

Mercedes‘ struggles over the past two seasons may not generate confidence that they will be one of the teams competing for titles, which could affect Verstappen’s decision. The eight-time constructors’ champions are yet to secure a podium finish this season amid a number of issues with their W15 car.

However, possible switch has been mooted in time for the new engine regulations in 2026, with Verstappen potentially waiting to see which team has the best chance of success in the new era before deciding whether to see out his contract, which is due to expire in 2028.

Wolff has also suggested he is keeping tabs on Carlos Sainz, who is without a drive for 2025 after being ousted by Ferrari to make way for Hamilton, if they cannot sign Verstappen.

The Spaniard has won one race and finished on the podium twice in five race starts in 2024, and his performances have caught the Mercedes chief’s eye.

“I think we want to take our time, see where Max’s thinking goes, and at the same time, monitor the other drivers,” Wolff added. “Carlos was very strong in Miami again and that’s why we are a little bit on an observation mode at the moment.”

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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