Formula 1

Nothing in meeting with Verstappen at Italian Grand Prix – Toto Wolff

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Is Max Verstappen a Mercedes driver in waiting? Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Boss Toto Wolff has said that although they have no plans to sign Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen next season, he is keeping his eyes and ears open on the Dutchman front.

His statement came after Jos Verstappen, father of the 19-year-old, was seen in talks with Wolff at the German squad’s motorhome during last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, but the Austrian assured Sky Germany recently, that it was purely a social visit.

“I’ve known Jos for many years; we have a common friend, Frank. He is on a visit here.

“So Niki [Lauda] and I sat in the office. Our Dutch friends came along and we had a coffee with them. Not more, not less.”

Although Verstappen is not contractually an option until 2019, there has been unrest in the Dutchman’s camp, following his retirement from six races so far this year, which has heavily blighted his 2017 campaign. That has led to speculation mounting that the 19-year-old wants out of Red Bull, and although not confirming any current interest, Wolff would not rule out bringing him to Mercedes once his contract with the Milton Keynes based squad expires.

“For next year, no interest in Max Verstappen. He is not available.

“But, he is one of the names you have to have on the radar. Max is one of the future stars of Formula 1.

“Like many others, like Valtteri [Bottas], like Daniel [Ricciardo]. Max and Esteban Ocon are part of this group of drivers as well.”

For now, Wolff is happy with the driver line-up they already have in place, and Mercedes are set to keep Valtteri Bottas on their books in 2018 alongside Lewis Hamilton, after what the Austrian considers to be a strong first season with the German squad.

“It’s all about the details. It’s a no-brainer to continue with Valtteri. He has done a really good job this year.

“He’s had his lows as well, which he needs to understand. But we couldn’t expect more from his first year.”

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