Antonelli future to remain unclear for now – Wolff

Wed, 3 July 2024, 10:01

Jul.3 (GMM) Toto Wolff is determined to keep his teenage protege Andrea ‘Kimi’ Antonelli on tenterhooks as he leaves a potential race seat wide open for Max Verstappen.

The Mercedes boss says he didn’t believe Verstappen’s “yes” in Austria last week when the triple world champion was asked if he was sure he remained committed to Red Bull for 2025 and beyond.

“He couldn’t say anything else, could he?” Wolff told this week. “They had to force that answer out of him.”

However, he admitted that what he perceived as a slightly non-committal answer from Verstappen doesn’t mean he’ll be at the wheel of a Mercedes in 2025.

When asked if he would ‘put his hand in the fire’ to predict that Verstappen will still be at Red Bull beyond this season, Wolff smiled: “I would put my hand in the fire that Max will be in Formula 1 next year.”

But that doesn’t mean the Mercedes boss thinks he will be preparing a set of silver overalls for Verstappen over the winter period.

“No. There is no reason for him to do that,” Wolff admitted. “Why would he?” he added, confessing that Mercedes does not yet have a car fast enough to attract the 26-year-old Dutchman.

“But 2026 is the year in which many things will change. I think it could be attractive to drive for us then,” said Wolff. “But whether Max will do that and whether he can get out of his contract, I don’t know.”

Wolff, however, is in the comfortable position of having 17-year-old Antonelli as the perfect ‘plan A’ for 2025 – whilst having the luxury of not actually confirming the deal until as late as possible.

“I would have liked to have chosen Carlos Sainz,” Wolff admits, “because he is very underrated and he works hard.

“But I don’t think he can wait as long as we need, because we might not make a decision until November.”

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