Verstappen: ‘Nice to hear’ those words from Wolff


Max Verstappen was left smiling upon hearing how Toto Wolff would love to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton with the reigning F1 champion.

Verstappen has again refused to rule out a future move to Mercedes after maintaining there is respect between himself and Wolff despite past animosity.

Speculation has swirled around Verstappen’s future in the wake of the saga surrounding Christian Horner, and the rumoured unrest inside Red Bull as the Englishman holds on steadfastly to his post as team principal.

Verstappen’s contract with Red Bull runs through until the end of 2028 although it is now known to contain an exit clause linked heavily to advisor Helmut Marko on the basis that if the Austrian leaves, so can the Dutch driver.

Unsurprisingly, given the apparent tumult inside Red Bull, Verstappen would be a wanted man should he opt to quit, with Wolff making clear he would love to sign the 26-year-old, stating that every team principal in the paddock would “do handstands” to bring in the three-time F1 champion.

Asked whether Wolff’s words, that he “would love” to sign the Dutch driver, had any impact upon him, Verstappen initially quipped: “I can understand!”

He then added: “No, it doesn’t have any impact on me, on what I will do or whatever. But it’s always nice to hear that.

“Of course, you know, Toto and I had our little moments but that’s normal between two teams battling for championships, but the respect has always been there. From my side, it doesn’t change anything.”

Wolff missed out on signing Verstappen several years ago as the then teenager went on to become the youngest driver in F1 history by joining Toro Rosso before a rapid promotion to Red Bull.

In 2021, Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the title following an acrimonious battle between the duo that ended in highly-controversial circumstances. At that stage, any future union seemed impossible.

The furore around Horner, however, appears to have altered the landscape.

Asked again whether he would ever join Mercedes, Verstappen again initially deflected with levity, remarking: “What year?”

Suggested to him ‘any year’, he replied: “I don’t know. I don’t know what happens after ’28. I don’t know if I’m going to stay in F1, or if I’m going to continue, maybe sign a new deal. I don’t know that yet.”

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