Wolff says no sadness over new Verstappen contract
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he has no sadness that Max Verstappen has committed his immediate future to Red Bull, insisting there had never been discussions with the Dutchman about luring him away.
Red Bull caused a surprise at the United States Grand Prix when it announced that Verstappen had extended his deal to remain at the Milton Keynes-based outfit until the end of 2020.
While Verstappen was an obvious future candidate for Mercedes – with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas out of contract at the end of next year – Wolff says he is not surprised by what has happened.
"I think Red Bull was very keen in extending Max's contract by a year, in order to make sure that he stays there for the next three years," said Wolff.
"If I were in Red Bull's shoes, and I believe in his abilities, probably stability is important and so far absolutely understandable from myself."
When asked if he was a bit sad that Mercedes has lost out on the opportunity to grab Verstappen in the near future, Wolff said: "Absolutely not. Why should I be sad?
"We see there are strong drivers all through the top teams now, and it doesn't come unexpected. And to be clear, we've never talked to him about a contract."
Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeuelen said that it was almost a no-brainer to commit to Red Bull, as the outfit ramps up its efforts to get back to title-winning ways.
"Of course, this is a decision you don't take very lightly," he told Motorsport.com. "We also talked a lot internally, with Jos and with Max, of course. And then you go and sit with Red Bull, and you try and fill everything in with each other.
"In 2015 we started at Toro Rosso and since then it all went pretty fast. Red Bull has been the one that has made all of this possible.
"And if you see how hard they work in the factory in Milton Keynes with the whole team to get back to the front of the pack, then you see there's a huge commitment from their side. But also Red Bull itself, they have also set some very clear targets for returning to where they belong.
"I think that spirit and mindset completely align with ours. And Max is still young. He's twenty years old, so he's 23 years old when this contract ends. So what are talking about it here?
"Red Bull is a fantastic team. Marketing wise they are also very enthusiastic about Max. This is a great story and we'd like to finish this story with Red Bull."
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