Toto Wolff is underwood to hold regular talks with reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen in what could be a blow to Red Bull. A paddock source suggests the Mercedes boss has had discussions with the Dutchman and his father Jos.
The content of the talks remains private but could be linked to a possible move for the 25-year-old. The revelation comes as Wolff is confident Lewis Hamilton will sign a new long-term deal with the Silver Arrows.
The seven-time champion’s current deal comes to an end after the 2023 season and the German manufacturer will no doubt want a top driver to step in if Hamilton walks away. However, in a possible barrier to Wolff’s plan is Verstappen’s promise to stay with the team for the rest of his career.
Verstappen’s current Red Bull deal runs until the end of the 2028 season after he signed an extension ahead of the new campaign. Earlier this season Verstappen reiterated that he was happy at Red Bull, making a move away unlikely.
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“Historically, drivers have switched teams – despite having multiple championships – for different reasons, whether it’s money or just wanting to go somewhere else.” Wolff has also confirmed Hamilton is still Mercedes’ preferred option for 2024 and beyond.
It is understood the pair are collaborating on a multi-year deal which could see Hamilton stay in the sport well into his 40s. He commented: “It is 100 per cent his [Lewis’] seat,” when asked if he was looking at other drivers for beyond 2023.
“We haven’t started any talks. We want to definitely finish the season and then find some quiet time over the winter like we did last time around.”