Wolff says he advised Verstappen to sign for Red Bull 21 August, 2014 Max Verstappen Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has admitted that his team came close to signing up Formula 1 rookie sensation Max Verstappen. Ultimately, the 16-year-old Dutchman and his father-manager Jos went with Red Bull‘s famous driver programme, after Helmut Marko promised him a race seat for 2015 at Toro Rosso. “We had several meetings with Jos and Max,” Wolff, Mercedes’ motor sport chief, confirmed to Bild. “He is certainly a great talent, but we would not and could not guarantee him a seat with us in Formula 1. “So I advised them to accept the offer from Red Bull,” Wolff confirmed. Verstappen’s signing at a very young age – before he even qualifies for a license to drive a road car – is controversial and it will be a big talking point throughout the Belgian GP weekend. But Formula 1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi thinks the talented Dutchman can be ready for his record-breaking 2015 debut. “Today, with all the electronic help, young drivers with talent are able to go very fast right off the bat,” he told Brazil’s Globo. “Last year I had the chance to drive a new Lotus and the car is really well balanced. “The drivers also have a very large support team around them. I am good friends with Franz Tost, he has worked with the drivers who later went to Red Bull like Vettel and Ricciardo, so I trust him a lot,” Fittipaldi added. (GMM) Tweet Related NewsSainz: It was not an easy summerVergne: I am alone right now with no help from Red BullSainz very upset when Red Bull promoted VerstappenMercedes would have put Verstappen through GP2 firstVergne open to future outside Formula 1Mercedes under fire for Three Stooges style managementMercedes seek guidance from fans and big bossVergne: I am in Formula 1 and my place is in Formula 1Marko: Verstappen will be immediately competitiveVergne: I should shave more often to look younger!