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Mercedes leaving door open for Verstappen through November

Mercedes leaving door open for Verstappen through November
© Reuters
Toto Wolff has indicated that Mercedes will keep its options open for Max Verstappen for almost the entirety of the rest of the year.

Toto Wolff has indicated that Mercedes will keep its options open for Max Verstappen for almost the entirety of the rest of the year.

Mercedes CEO and chairman Ola Kallenius stirred the pot in Barcelona by revealing his preference for Verstappen to succeed Lewis Hamilton next year, describing him as a fitting new multiple world champion for the marque.

"The cards are being reshuffled," he commented. "Silver would also suit Max well."

Wolff, team boss and co-owner, has openly admitted his preference for Verstappen, even over his 17-year-old protégé Kimi Antonelli, acknowledging that delaying a decision would be unfair to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who is also job-hunting.

"I didn't want to keep him waiting," Wolff stated. "We want to delay the decision for as long as possible to remain flexible."

"I don't think we can make a decision until November," the Austrian added.

Verstappen, currently under contract until 2028, is seen by his own team boss Christian Horner as being targeted by Kallenius and Wolff merely to "destabilise" Red Bull.

Amidst internal power struggles, Red Bull has already lost Adrian Newey, and Dr Helmut Marko has not dismissed potential further exits.

Wolff remarked, "Let Christian believe that Verstappen will stay. Our job is to enable Lewis and George (Russell) to finish the season on a high level and we'll see if the W15 will be a car that can convince Max."

Wolff also suggested that Red Bull would struggle significantly without Verstappen.

"I think it's Max who wins the races, not Red Bull," Wolff argued. "The car is solid, but (Sergio) Perez is not doing well. It's Max who makes the difference."

Former F1 driver Christijan Albers also believes that Red Bull is in a precarious position.

"We all hear them say it - that it doesn't matter that Newey is leaving, because Pierre Wache is the man," he told Viaplay.

"But with all due respect, we see in the last races that the car is not getting better."

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