Home Sport Jacques Villeneuve raises Toto Wolff suspicions as Mercedes flirt with Max Verstappen

Jacques Villeneuve raises Toto Wolff suspicions as Mercedes flirt with Max Verstappen

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has made it clear that he would welcome Max Verstappen as Lewis Hamilton’s blockbuster replacement next season. However, former driver Jacques Villeneuve is unconvinced the Austrian would be making a move for the good of Mercedes rather than sticking the knife into Red Bull.

Verstappen is under contract at Red Bull until 2028, but his future has plunged into doubt as a result of allegations against Christian Horner for inappropriate behaviour towards a female employee.

An internal investigation dismissed the claims and suspended the complainant over the accuracy of evidence provided, but uncertainty over Horner’s position rumbles on.

Jos Verstappen, the three-time world champion’s father, didn’t extinguish the saga when he publicly called for Horner to leave Red Bull due to the distraction it was causing.

In the background, Mercedes have been flirting with the idea of poaching Verstappen from their rivals at the end of the season as they prepare for Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari.

But Villeneuve has questioned the truth of Wolff’s claims that he wants the 26-year-old to join the Silver Arrows, suggesting his reasoning would stem deeper than solely desiring his driving ability.

“I can’t imagine Toto Wolff wanting Max. The only way he would entertain the idea would just be to annoy Red Bull,” Villeneuve explained.

“I can’t see him at Mercedes because they lost the championship to Red Bull and Max. It would definitely not be because he really wanted Max. It would be more to do with wanting to get at Red Bull.”

However, Villeneuve agreed that Red Bull could be in disarray despite dominating the first two races of the 2024 season.

Verstappen won both openers as Sergio Perez completed the one-two. Their progress stalled last time out in Australia, though, as Verstappen suffered an early DNF and Perez could only manage P5.

He added: “There are a lot of personal vendettas in there right now, both inside and outside of Red Bull. The whole thing is a mess.

“Would the team be as good without Horner? That is a difficult one. Would the team win without Verstappen? Probably.

“Max is winning because he has an amazing car and Red Bull are winning because they have an amazing driver. But he is not the only amazing driver that exists. Put Alonso in that car and he would be winning as well.

“I am sure Max believes he could win at Mercedes and at Ferrari as well and that he would make a difference. He has to believe like that. And he might be able to make that much of a difference.

“But that is something we won’t know until he makes that move. Right now, he is beating Perez and that makes him look amazing. But we don’t know how good Perez really is. We just know he is not as good as Verstappen.”


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