Verstappen: Lately, Wolff has been really nice

Verstappen: Lately, Wolff has been really nice

Verstappen: Lately, Wolff has been really nice

Max Verstappen joked when asked about the positive things Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has been saying about him as the latter continues shopping for a new driver.

With Lewis Hamilton leaving for Ferrari in 2025, Wolff has the difficult task of filling the seven-time Formula 1 Champion’s seat next year.

As Red Bull started their 2024 season in tumultuous fashion due to the Christian Horner scandal, and with the power struggle going on behind the scenes at Milton Keynes, the chances of Verstappen leaving soon became stronger, that is until matters settled down – for now that is.

While a Verstappen-to-Mercedes scenario would’ve been considered as fiction given the animosities generated by Verstappen’s bitter 2021 Title fight with Hamilton that saw many flashpoints; the first being the Dutchman’s Silverstone incident where he ended up in the wall, and then in the hospital, after a violent crash at Copse corner after being tagged by Hamilton’s Mercedes as the pair were fighting for position.

Hamilton went on to win that race and Verstappen labeled Mercedes’ post-race celebrations as “disrespectful” while he was still in the hospital.

That season featured more contact between Verstappen and Hamilton, infamously at Monza, the former’s car ended up on top of the latter’s taking both out of the race.

The 2021 season saw Verstappen deny Hamilton an eighth F1 Title after a controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi, but relations between the Red Bull ace and the Mercedes camp were permanently damaged, or so we thought.

Genuine praise or meddling?

Hamilton: I am sure Verstappen is on Mercedes' list

With the situation at Red Bull being volatile and Verstappen weighing up his options, Wolff couldn’t resist the urge of trying to destabilize the team even more claiming Verstappen was the top of his list of drivers he was considering to replace Hamilton.

Such was the praise in the Austrian’s words towards Verstappen that one would be excused to think that the 2021 F1 season didn’t even happen, but such is the level of politicking in F1.

During the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, Wolff claimed Verstappen wouldn’t not be caught in the 2024 Title race, and those comments were raised to the triple F1 Champion during the post-race press conference and was quizzed whether he feels his fourth F1 Crown is a given.

“Lately, Toto has been really nice, saying a lot of nice things about me!” Verstappen joked, but then went down to business adding: “No, I don’t know. It’s still a very long season.

“I don’t want to think about the rest of the season too much. I really want to approach it race by race. I know there will be tracks coming up that might not be so favourable for us, but then, of course, when we do get to tracks where we know that we can be quick, we have to really take advantage of it and score the maximum amount of points as a team, and that’s what we’ll continue to try and do.

“And then, of course, I think we know that we get to tracks where maybe it’s a bit more difficult we have to try and maximise that as well, where maybe other teams can win as well,” he concluded.

While Wolff is right about Verstappen securing a fourth Title in 2024, one could question his genuineness claiming he wanted him in a Mercedes in 2025, but in F1 nothing can be discounted.

Big Question: After 2021, will a Verstappen-Mercedes relationship work?