Wolff Labels Verstappen 'Strongest Driver' Amid Possibility Of Becoming 'Alternative' For Him

Wednesday, 13 March 2024 at 19:30
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Toto Wolff suggested Max Verstappen is the strongest driver, as he discussed the possibility of attracting the Dutchman to Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton is departing Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season, which means Toto Wolff needs to search for a potential driver that could replace him.
Though it first seemed like Max Verstappen could not be an option for the German team, we learned over the past two weeks that there might be ways for him to break free from his current contract with Red Bull, which lasts until the end of the season 2028.
Both Helmut Marko and Christian Horner already suggested they wouldn't stay in the 26-year-old's way if he really wanted to leave the team.
The question is if he wants to. Wolff is aware that he would have a bigger chance of attracting the triple World Champion had he had the dominant car. As reported by RacingNews365, Wolff told OE24:

"Every team would like to take Max because he is the strongest driver, that's logical. But the driver will always try to be in the strongest car."

"That's why we have to do our homework beforehand so that the car performs. Mercedes could become a real alternative for Max."

The Silver Arrows team principal suggested that even if his team couldn't match Red Bull this season and in 2025, the next big opportunity would come with new regulations in 2026.
That is also when a huge challenge awaits Red Bull, which will try to produce their own power units for the first time. Failure to produce a competitive power unit will destroy Red Bull's performance. Could this be something that would make Verstappen reconsider his options? Wolff added:

"There will be completely new regulations from 2026, especially in terms of the engine. That gives us the opportunity to hopefully do as well as we did in 2014. If you can be there early as a driver, that's obviously an advantage."