Motor Sports

Mercedes would do handstands to have Verstappen says Wolff

JEDDAH: Mercedes would do handstands to have Red Bull's triple world champion Max Verstappen driving for them but first they need a car worthy of his talents, team boss Toto Wolff said on Saturday.

Verstappen has won 19 of the last 20 races and took his second of the Formula One season in Saudi Arabia with an untroubled run from pole position.

The Dutch driver's future has been the subject of some speculation, despite Red Bull being way ahead of the rest, as a consequence of allegations by a female team employee against principal Christian Horner.

Horner has been cleared, after denying the accusations, but relations with Verstappen's father Jos have frozen after the former racer said the team risked being torn apart if the Briton stayed at the helm.

"I'd love to have him (Verstappen)," Wolff, who has a vacancy for 2025 following Lewis Hamilton's decision to move to Ferrari, told reporters.

"But first we need to sort out our car. I think we owe it to our drivers George (Russell) and Lewis to improve the car and give them equipment that is good before dreaming about the future next year."

Asked if Verstappen was the top target, Wolff replied: "This is a decision that Max needs to take and there is no team up and down the grid who wouldn't do handstands to have him in the car."

Verstappen has a contract with Red Bull until 2028 and Horner has said he is confident the 26-year-old will see it out.

Wolff indicated there was no rush to decide the 2025 driver lineup.

"We have a few interesting options. The more we are able to assess how the season pans out, young drivers, slightly older ones, that's not going to be a decision which we want to take in the next few weeks," he said.

"It's rather a few months depending on where it goes."

Russell finished sixth and Hamilton ninth on Saturday after starting seventh and eighth.

"The car is relatively good in the low speed and not so bad in the medium, but in the high-speed we are miles off," said Hamilton.

"It's frustrating for sure to be three years in a row in almost the same position.

"We've definitely got to make some big changes." --REUTERS

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