Mercedes waits for Max as Red Bull scandal gets ‘quieter’

Amid the turmoil engulfing Red Bull, Toto Wolff openly declares his intent to bide his time for Max Verstappen’s possible induction into Mercedes, against the backdrop of Red Bull’s internal conflicts and the Christian Horner saga.

While firmly under contract with Red Bull until 2028, Verstappen felt encouraged in Melbourne by Wolff’s acknowledgment of his willingness to “love” to have the Dutch driver join Mercedes by 2025, coinciding with Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari.

Revelations around the ‘Marko clause’ hint at Verstappen’s potential to terminate his enduring contract if internal discord continues, mirroring the current situation at Red Bull.

As speculation mounts over Verstappen’s possible switch to Mercedes, the controversy surrounding Horner has noticeably quieted down.

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

Wolff, on his part, is prepared to wait, clearly indicating Verstappen as his preferred choice for 2025, considering him the foremost F1 driver since Hamilton’s championship reign.

“Yes, I’m waiting for him,” Wolff confided to De Telegraaf in Melbourne. “A few months ago I would never have expected to be able to say that,” he added.

Verstappen, on the other hand, claims contentment at Red Bull despite the existing upheaval. “The car works really well. It is my best start to a season,” the 26-year-old racer stated, emphasizing his focus on performance driven by the team’s dedication.

Wolff, meanwhile, is not hurrying to appoint Hamilton’s successor, opting to wait for Verstappen. “I don’t want to speculate too much about his thoughts or put pressure on him,” he mentioned, noting Verstappen’s prime position and strong rapport with Red Bull, albeit amid a possibly flawed work environment.

“In due time, Max, Jos (Verstappen), and their manager, Raymond Vermeulen, 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,” Wolff observed, acknowledging the Verstappen family’s strong adherence to values.

Despite previous tensions during the fiercely competitive 2021 world championship, Wolff claims reconciliation has occurred since. “Jos and I are the same age,” he remarked. “I think we’ve always respected each other and we also have the same kind of humour. But I think the most important thing is that we both don’t like nonsense.”

Wolff concedes that aside from Verstappen, only a “small group of drivers” captures his interest as potential successors to Hamilton. “Among them are some drivers who will not make hasty decisions,” he stated.

Fernando Alonso has indicated his willingness to wait until summer, as Wolff acknowledges the existence of both short-term and long-term options for drivers. “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, emphasizing a period of reflection before making any decisions. “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.”

GMM

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