Lewis Hamilton

Akshita Patel

Toto Wolff Admits Lewis Hamilton Blocked Mercedes From Signing Max Verstappen Before He Moved To Red Bull

Max Verstappen debuted in Formula One back in 2015 at just 17 years of age, which made him the youngest driver to hit the grid. He fast-tracked his way to the pinnacle of motorsport with minimal proven experience. However, Red Bull Racing took their shot and yielded unimaginable results. The 25-year-old is now set to attain his third consecutive driver’s title this year.

Max Verstappen has become a force to reckon with ever since securing a seat at Red Bull. He has set up a 10 consecutive wins record this season and is likely to lift Red Bull to a defeatless season. However, the drink-based team was on the brink of losing the opportunity to sign Verstappen back in 2015 as Mercedes emerged as the bigger player.

   

Toto Wolff Admits Of Having Approached Max Verstappen In 2015

Max Verstappen
Credit: The Mirror

In just one year into professional racing, Max Verstappen found himself on the Formula One grid. The 17-year-old signed with Red Bull’s sister team, Torro Rosso (AlphaTauri), back in 2015. He quickly rose the ranks to secure a seat on the main team, and the rest is history. However, the Mercedes team boss recently revealed that the team passed on an opportunity to land Verstappen during his rookie years. Wolff said in F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast that the Dutchman impressed the whole F1 community with his skills in karting and F3. In fact, the Silver Arrows even approached the driver’s dad and former driver, Jos Verstappen, since the rookie was underage.

Toto Wolff apparently had a positive discussion with Jos Verstappen, with the active involvement of Max. However, since Mercedes were happy with their then-driving team, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, they couldn’t offer a seat to the hungry Dutch driver. All Wolff could put on the table was support in F2. Meanwhile, Red Bull took advantage of having a sister team on the grid and offered an active seat, which Verstappen accepted gracefully. Having said that, the tables turned quickly in just a year as the Silver Arrows were left with an empty seat in 2016. After defeating Hamilton in the drivers championship, Rosberg called it quits with immediate effect. But by then, the Brackley-based team had already lost their opportunity. They ended up signing Valterri Bottas from Williams, who drove with Lewis for the next five years.

Mercedes Growing Uncomfortable With Verstappen’s Dominance

Mercedes
medium.com

Formula One has evolved so much in these past three years. Mercedes, who dominated the sport for a decade, are now lingering in the middle of the grid. On the other hand, Red Bull Racing went on to establish its own era of dominance by securing consecutive constructors and driver’s championships. This new era is apparently making the Silver Arrows uncomfortable.

Lewis Hamilton has been calling for FIA intervention to somehow strip Red Bull of their advantage. On the other hand, Toto Wolff, the team principal, disregarded Max Verstappen’s records, claiming it’s only for Wikipedia and no one takes it seriously. The rivalry is scaling new heights each day. Moreover, as Mercedes looks to close out the gap in the near future, the intense battle would be a treat for F1 fans.