Wolff refuses to rule out meeting Verstappen over Mercedes move

By Sports Desk May 07, 2024

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has refused to rule out meeting with Max Verstappen to discuss a potential switch from Red Bull, though he says the Silver Arrows are also looking at other drivers.

Verstappen looks unlikely to be denied a fourth straight world championship after starting 2024 with four wins from six races, though he was beaten by Lando Norris at Sunday's Miami Grand Prix.

However, the Dutchman's future has become a subject of discussion amid a difficult period for Red Bull behind the scenes.

Team principal Christian Horner was accused and later cleared of engaging in controlling behaviour towards a female employee earlier this year, while chief technical officer Adrian Newey is stepping back from his role and will be free to join another team in early 2025.

While Verstappen's contract with Red Bull runs through 2028, reports have suggested he could follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and exercise a break clause to push through a huge move.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz has also been linked with Mercedes after seeing the Scuderia promise his 2025 seat to Hamilton, and Wolff says the team have plenty of irons in the fire.

Asked if he was keen to meet with Verstappen, Wolff said: "There's always plenty of meetings. I can't really say about the second driver. I think we've talked about the possibilities. 

"I want to be fair to these guys and not make it look like we are playing chess with humans, because we are not doing that.

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

Verstappen has said the strength of teams' cars after regulation changes are implemented in 2026 will inform any decision on his future, and Wolff says the Dutchman is right to bide his time. 

"I was him I wouldn't leave, at least for 2025, but he's the leading driver, he's the top guy at the moment and that's why it's for him to take those decisions," Wolff said.

"There may not be any decisions to take, maybe everything continues like it is, but that is then also guidance for us."

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    Sergio Perez has apologised following a second successive retirement at the Canada Grand Prix which left him 87 points behind Red Bull team-mate, Max Vertsappen.

    The 34-year-old remained fifth overall in the world championship and a point behind Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who was one of five drivers that failed to finish the race. 

    In difficult conditions in Montreal, the Mexican started 16th but hopes of climbing up the pecking order soon faded after damaging his car's front wing on the opening lap when he made contact with Alpine's Pierre Gasly.

    He then crashed into the barriers late in the day after losing control on a damp kerb at turn six, hobbling back to the pits with a broken rear wing. 

    "I'm very sorry for my team, I let them down today. But we will come back no doubt. There’s a very long way to go," Perez said on social media.

    His final incident cost him a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Barcelona, with the stewards punishing him for a breach of the safety rules that require a driver to stop if the car is unsafe.

    "The incident was on me, I touched the wet part into turn six and I couldn’t stop the car, I couldn’t touch the brakes," Perez said on Sunday.

    "It has been a very tough couple of weekends, we will regroup, keep our heads down and learn from the weekend. We identified a couple of issues after qualifying and they meant we would have qualified a lot higher.

    "Hopefully we can be back to our form in Spain and get back to the level we were at earlier in the season. I am confident in that, there are good tracks coming for us."

    Perez recently signed a new two-year deal with Red Bull, ending speculation that the world champions will sign free agent Sainz ahead of the new season. 

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    The 34-year-old remained fifth overall in the world championship and a point behind Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who was one of five drivers that failed to finish the race. 

    In difficult conditions in Montreal, the Mexican started 16th but hopes of climbing up the pecking order soon faded after damaging his car's front wing on the opening lap when he made contact with Alpine's Pierre Gasly.

    He then crashed into the barriers late in the day after losing control on a damp kerb at turn six, hobbling back to the pits with a broken rear wing. 

    "I'm very sorry for my team, I let them down today. But we will come back no doubt. There’s a very long way to go," Perez said on social media.

    His final incident cost him a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Barcelona, with the stewards punishing him for a breach of the safety rules that require a driver to stop if the car is unsafe.

    "The incident was on me, I touched the wet part into turn six and I couldn’t stop the car, I couldn’t touch the brakes," Perez said on Sunday.

    "It has been a very tough couple of weekends, we will regroup, keep our heads down and learn from the weekend. We identified a couple of issues after qualifying and they meant we would have qualified a lot higher.

    "Hopefully we can be back to our form in Spain and get back to the level we were at earlier in the season. I am confident in that, there are good tracks coming for us."

    Perez recently signed a new two-year deal with Red Bull, ending speculation that the world champions will sign free agent Sainz ahead of the new season. 

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    Red Bull's Verstappen claimed his sixth victory of the season, extending his championship lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to 56 points after a weekend to forget for the Italian team. 

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    "Then we got back on to the slicks, made a couple of mistakes out there just pushing the limits and paid the price for it.

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