F1 driver market on hold for Verstappen, Wolff says

Toto Wolff says Max Verstappen is the key piece in the driver market at the moment and that Mercedes will wait to see if he takes an opportunity to leave Red Bull.

Verstappen is under contract until the end of the 2028 season, but has suggested he could move on if certain key personnel — citing Helmut Marko as one such figure — were to leave. Mercedes team principal Wolff has openly stated he would take any chance to sign Verstappen to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton next year, and after Adrian Newey’s departure from Red Bull was confirmed last week the Mercedes team principal believes the reigning champion is the main influence in the driver market right now.

“I think for all of the teams he is,” Wolff said. “As I said before, if I was him, I wouldn’t leave, at least for 2025. But it’s all in his (hands). He’s the leading driver. He’s the top guy at the moment and that’s why he needs to make those decisions. And there may not be any decision to take. Maybe everything continues like it is but that is also guidance for us.”


Wolff denied there would be a meeting with Verstappen’s management immediately after the Miami Grand Prix weekend, but wouldn’t rule out future talks to understand if the Dutchman is open to a move.

“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 and see where Max’s thinking goes and at the same time monitor the other drivers. Carlos [Sainz] was very strong [in Miami] again and that’s why we’re a little bit in an observation mode at the moment.”

With paddock sources suggesting there is growing confidence in Mercedes’ power unit development ahead of the new 2026 regulations, Zak Brown’s claim that McLaren has received multiple approaches from Red Bull personnel wanting to move was backed up by Wolff, although he downplayed the significance.

“Yeah, Zak is absolutely correct. We’ve seen Red Bull CVs through all of the levels,” Wolff said. “But I would say this is not anything out of the ordinary. People change teams and want to change the environment.

“I’ve come to the point that I’m not really interested in what’s going on there with the leadership. I’m not listening to anything anymore. I think it’s important for us to look at our team and develop the strong people and hopefully get some interesting, competent people from other teams into Mercedes and provide an exciting journey to recovery.”

Story originally appeared on Racer