Toto Wolff reveals how Max Verstappen almost joined Mercedes

Toto Wolff has revealed he had discussions with Max Verstappen about him joining Mercedes.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that reigning World Champion Max Verstappen almost became a Silver Arrows driver, with Wolff having approached the Dutchman when he was racing in Formula 3.

Verstappen famously made the jump from F3 to Formula 1 at just 17 years old, with Red Bull having put him at Toro Rosso (known now as AlphaTauri).

However, prior to Red Bull doing this, Wolff spoke to both Verstappen and his father about becoming a Mercedes supported driver.

“Max was very good in karting, was good in F3, and it was clear that there’s a big one that’s growing,” Wolff told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

“We talked to them in the initial phases, and it was a nice discussion with (his dad) Jos and with Max involved as well.”

As Mercedes had both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg contracted to the team at the time, Wolff offered Verstappen support from the German manufacturer to race in Formula 2.

However, this is when Red Bull swooped in and offered the 25-year-old a straight promotion into F1 at their sister team.

“But it was clear that we couldn’t give him a seat because we had Nico and we had Lewis,” Wolff added.

Article continues below

“We offered the support in F2 but, since Red Bull was able to offer them the AlphaTauri seat, or Toro Rosso back in the day, it got Max into the seat.”

The rest is pretty much history, with Verstappen having then moved to the Red Bull works team at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, to replace Daniil Kvyat.

Verstappen famously won his maiden race for Red Bull, after Hamilton and Rosberg took each other out.

READ: Toto Wolff: ‘We’ll be right behind Red Bull next week’

He’s gone on to become one of the greatest F1 drivers of all-time, who is set to claim a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship.

If that wasn’t enough, he eclipsed Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record for nine consecutive wins recently at the Italian Grand Prix, in what was his 10th win in a row and his 12th of 2023.

Letting Verstappen go is perhaps something Wolff will regret, given how formidable a Hamilton-Verstappen partnership would’ve been.