Mercedes have no 'opportunity' to sign Verstappen

Oleh Chris Myson 22 Oktober 2020 40
Mercedes have no 'opportunity' to sign Verstappen

Toto Wolff says Mercedes do not have an "opportunity" to move for Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

The prospect of a dream partnership between six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Formula One's top young star Verstappen has often been speculated over.

But Verstappen is under contract with Red Bull, who will lose its engine provider, Honda, after next season, until 2023.

Wolff is happy to have Hamilton partnered by Valtteri Bottas, the duo providing a level of team harmony much different to when the Briton was sharing a garage with Nico Rosberg.

"The situation around Max doesn't provide any opportunity now," Mercedes team principal Wolff said to the Beyond the Grid podcast.

"He's bound to Red Bull, I respect his loyalty a lot and I think it's important for Red Bull to have Max.

"There's a lot of narrative around that and Red Bull picked him up from very early on when he joined Toro Rosso. The situation is what it is and it's good for him and good for us.

"Valtteri does a great job for us, and Lewis does a great job for us and they are still at the peak of their performance levels.

"Then we have juniors that are coming up that have been with us for many years and could be the future for us. So this is what we look at."

In-form Verstappen has reached the podium in the eight grands prix he has finished in 2020, winning once and taking second place five times.

Ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend, Hamilton leads Bottas by 69 points, with Verstappen just 14 adrift of the Finn in third.

Bottas joined Mercedes from Williams in 2017 after the surprise retirement of Rosberg, who had just been crowned world champion after a heated 2016 title battle with his former friend Hamilton.

"Some things between Nico and Lewis we will never understand, because it goes back many years from go-karting into junior formulas," added Wolff.

"It grew from camaraderie to rivalry to animosity. They just fell out, pretty early on actually when I joined in 2013. Then it gets worse and worse and worse.

"There was a lot of negativity and that would drag the whole room down. It was very difficult. It is so refreshing that since Valtteri joined, we haven't had any of that."

Victory for Hamilton in Portugal – the first race held in the country for 24 years - would be the 92nd of his F1 career, moving him in to sole possession of the race wins record above Michael Schumacher.

The championship leader has won at three out of the last four circuits he has raced at for the first time - in Mugello this year, Sochi (2014) and Austin (2012).

Bottas, meanwhile, was unable to win at the Eifel Grand Prix last time out despite starting from pole position – the ninth time that has happened from his 14 poles.

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Chris Myson

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