Toto Wolff reveals why Max Verstappen rejected Mercedes offer

Max Verstappen is two wins away from becoming Red Bull's most successful driver, in terms of the most grand prix victories.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that he had the chance to sign reigning World Champion Max Verstappen ahead of the 2015 F1 season, but that he had nowhere to put the Dutchman.

Had Verstappen signed for Mercedes rather than Red Bull, then the world of F1 would certainly look very different, given that the 25-year-old would perhaps be competing alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen, of course, made his full F1 debut in 2015 at Toro Rosso as a Red Bull Junior driver, at just the age of 17 years old.

He went on to make the switch to Red Bull at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, after Daniil Kvyat was dropped back to the sister team.

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The start of Verstappen’s F1 career came at a time when Mercedes were unbelievably dominant, thanks to Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

It was as a result of having Hamilton and Rosberg in the team that Wolff was unable to sign Verstappen, with the Austrian having only been able to offer him a GP2 (known now as F2) seat.

“Yes,” Wolff told Motorsport Italy, when asked if he had the chance to sign Verstappen ahead of 2015, “but I didn’t have a Formula 1 steering wheel to offer him.

“We had Lewis and Nico and both had long-term contracts, Max was clearly an interesting youngster but at that moment we could have offered him a place in GP2 and then maybe a contract.”

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Red Bull, of course, were able to offer Verstappen an F1 seat at Toro Rosso, with Wolff having actually “advised” the double World Champion to accept Dr Helmut Marko’s offer.

As a result of Verstappen accepting the Red Bull advisor’s deal, the Dutch driver left “the Mercedes orbit”.

“But Helmut was able to offer him a seat in Formula 1 and in the end, I also advised him to go that route,” Wolff added.

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“And that meant seeing him leave the Mercedes orbit”.

Since joining the Red Bull family, Verstappen has gone on to create history, with the driver now being on the verge of eclipsing Sebastian Vettel’s record of 38 wins for the Milton Keynes-based team.

Verstappen’s win at the Australian Grand Prix was his 37th for Red Bull, meaning he can match Vettel in Azerbaijan and eclipse him in Miami.