Wolff plays down Verstappen meeting

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has played down the significance of a meeting with Jos Verstappen at his motorhome at the Italian GP – but concedes he is keeping tabs on the future availability of the Dutchman’s son Max.

Wolff plays down Verstappen meeting
Polesitter Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing in parc ferme
 Toto Wolff, Executive Director Mercedes AMG F1
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08

After a recent run of reliability problems, Max Verstappen’s long-term future at Red Bull has been thrown into doubt, with him clear that things will need to improve if he is to renew his current deal.

Verstappen is currently committed to Red Bull for 2018 but there are understood to be some options that could allow him to leave as early as 2019.

A chat between his father Jos and Wolff at Mercedes on Friday at Monza fuelled speculation about a potential future deal, but the Mercedes boss insists the chat was just a social one.

“I’ve known Jos for many years,” Wolff told Sky Germany about the meeting. “We have a common friend, Frank. He is on a visit here. So Niki [Lauda] and I sat in the office. Our Dutch friends came along and we had a coffee with them. Not more, not less.”

Asked whether there was any interest in Verstappen as a Mercedes driver in the future, Wolff said: “For next year, no interest in Max Verstappen. He is not available.”

However, well aware about the question marks regarding 2019, Wolff said that Mercedes was keeping an eye on a host of youngsters.

“He is one of the names you have to have on the radar,” he said. “Max is one of the future stars of Formula 1.

"Like many others, like Valtteri [Bottas], like Daniel [Ricciardo]. Max and Esteban Ocon are part of this group of drivers as well.”

Mercedes will keep Valtteri Bottas for 2018 after a strong first campaign for the team, but there remain questions about how long a deal he will get.

Wolff added: “It's all about the details. It's a no-brainer to continue with Valtteri. He has done a really good job this year.

"He's had his lows as well, which he needs to understand. But we couldn't expect more from his first year.”

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