Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff

Formula 1: Wolff delusional to think Verstappen will drive for him

Toto Wolff is delusional to believe the fake rumors that the Red Bull team might self implode, and Max Verstappen might drive for Mercedes.

(GMM) Toto Wolff says he will keep “waiting” for Max Verstappen, as the Red Bull power struggle and Christian Horner affair keeps bubbling in the background.

Verstappen, under contract to Red Bull through 2028, said in Melbourne that it was “nice to hear” Mercedes boss Wolff admit that he would “love” to accommodate the Dutchman in 2025 as Lewis Hamilton departs for Ferrari.

Getting a good laugh at all the fake rumors that the Red Bull team might self implode – Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner, Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko talk in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

It has emerged that a so-nicknamed ‘Marko clause’ could allow the triple world champion to escape his long-term deal in the event of personnel unrest – like the Red Bull saga that is currently playing out.

Amid the Verstappen-to-Mercedes rumors, the Horner scandal has suddenly subsided.

“Thank God it’s getting quieter,” Red Bull’s top F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko admitted in Melbourne.

Wolff, though, says he will be patient – and makes no mistake that Verstappen, the most dominant F1 driver since Hamilton’s run of titles, is his top pick for 2025.

“Yes, I’m waiting for him,” the Austrian admitted to De Telegraaf in Melbourne.

“A few months ago I would never have expected to be able to say that,” Wolff added.

Earlier in Melbourne, Verstappen declared that he remains “happy” at Red Bull despite the turmoil.

“The car works really well. It is my best start to a season,” said the 26-year-old. “The team has many great people who are constantly working to improve results. That’s what I focus on – performing.”

In the meantime, Wolff says he is in no rush to name Hamilton’s successor as he waits for Verstappen.

“I don’t want to speculate too much about his thoughts or put pressure on him,” he said. “Now he is in the best car and has a very good relationship with Red Bull, it’s just that maybe the whole work environment at the moment is not as it should be.

“In due time, Max, Jos (Verstappen) and Raymond Vermeulen, their manager, will have to decide what their priority is – the car, the results, or certain values within the team that may or may not be respected and that they consider important.

“Knowing them quite well, I think Max and Jos are very attached to clear values,” Wolff noted.

However, the Verstappens and Wolff fell out badly during the ultra-intense 2021 world championship. But Wolff claims they have since reconciled.

“Jos and I are the same age,” he said. “I think we’ve always respected each other and we also have the same kind of humor. But I think the most important thing is that we both don’t like nonsense.

“Jos knows more about racing than me, and also than Max. Maybe I know a little more about how to run an organization,” Wolff smiled.

“It’s unfortunate that there was some rivalry, but I will always defend my driver, and they probably would have behaved the same way. But looking back at 2021, it’s clear that I made some mistakes, but I can’t go back.

Wolff admits that, Verstappen aside, only a “small group of drivers” interests him as Hamilton’s potential successors. “Among them are some drivers who will not make hasty decisions,” he said.

Indeed, Fernando Alonso declared in Melbourne that he is prepared to wait until the summer. “There are options for drivers in the short term, but also in the long term,” Wolff admitted.

“There is a certain situation at Red Bull. So, presumably, Max will decide his future in the coming weeks depending on how the situation evolves. Is he number 1 on the wish list? It’s a great opportunity,” he said.

“We already knew that Lewis could leave after this year when he signed the contract. But at the same time, this creates opportunities for us, while Ferrari and McLaren have no vacancies,” Wolff continued.

“I want to let my mind wander for the next two or three months and then decide which direction to take. We prefer to walk towards the right decision than run towards the wrong one.”

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