Verstappen reveals Mercedes major blunder in talks with Red Bull star

The Dutchman has addressed how Mercedes initially held talks to sign him before he joined Red Bull

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Max Verstappen has opened up on how Mercedes dropped the ball when holding talks to sign him before he decided to join Red Bull.

The Dutchman emerged on the scene as a 16-year-old when he made his F1 debut in 2014 as a reserve driver for Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s sister team now named Visa Cash App RB.

But before that, he and his father, Jos, held talks about joining Mercedes‘ driver programme, before it was decided Verstappen would be best served developing with the Austrian team after being told to meet high targets by the Silver Arrows.

A decade later, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is keen on hiring Verstappen to replace the outgoing Lewis Hamilton – and the 26-year-old boldly indicated that it is only natural the Mercedes supremo would want to sign him.

Max Verstappen and Toto Wolff, pictured at Bernie Ecclestone’s birthday celebrations in 2016, held talks about a move to Mercedes | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

β€œHe [Wolff] can’t do anything else. I understand why he does it… you can’t ignore me,” Verstappen said to De Limburger.

“In the past, even before Red Bull, we had discussions with Mercedes. [Back] then they said: ‘you have to do this and that to become successful’. I think I have now shown how it should be done. They want me in that car, I understand that.”

Verstappen refuses to close the door

The three-time world champion has been linked with a shock move away from Red Bull after a tumultuous period at the Austrian team.

Numerous fallouts between senior figures caused divisions with the team between Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Verstappen’s father, Jos.

At one point, Verstappen threatened to quit the team if Marko, 80, was sacked with reports circulating in March that he could leave. However, the civil war has somewhat died down after clear-the-air talks took place.

When asked about the likelihood of him walking away from Red Bull, Verstappen said: “Look, a few years ago there was of course a little more tension between us and Mercedes, I would like to say a little more, yes. But that can all be forgiven and forgotten. That’s true on both sides.

“But that doesn’t mean I think I should be driving somewhere else right now. In addition, Mercedes does not have the fastest car at the moment, that really is the Red Bull.”

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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