Toto Wolff criticised by Red Bull boss over “respect” for chasing Max Verstappen

Oliver Mintzlaff wades into debate surrounding Max Verstappen's future

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director…

Toto Wolff has been hit with criticism from Red Bull’s managing director over his pursuit of Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, who will begin Sunday’s F1 Miami Grand Prix from pole position, is Wolff’s dream replacement for Lewis Hamilton who will go to Ferrari next year.

The chaos off-track at Red Bull - which resulted in Adrian Newey’s shock exit this week - has perhaps given Mercedes hope that they could sensationally lure Verstappen.

But Oliver Mintzlaff, the Austrian brand’s managing director, has stepped into the debate to tell Wolff to back off.

“I understand the pressure that Toto Wolff, and perhaps other teams, have after years of being behind,” he told Bild.

“But I think Wolff should concentrate on his challenges. He has enough of those.

“And it also has something to do with respect. If I keep talking about the personnel of other teams, that's not right.

“Max still has a long-term contract here, and he hasn't said a word that he doesn't want to fulfil it.

“I'm not at all worried that he's considering a move.

“Things just have to calm down again now. That’s what Max wants. And that’s what we want too.

“You need that, if you want to be successful in the long term in sport, whether in football or Formula 1.”

Verstappen has a contract with Red Bull until 2028 but, in the days before the Miami Grand Prix, was the reported subject of a mega-money offer from Mercedes.

Mintzlaff was asked if there was any reason why F1’s champion might want to quit his dominant team.

“No. At least I can't think of any,” he replied.

“Max wants the fastest car. We have this. Max wants to become world champion. With us, he has the best chances.

“And Max is a loyal guy. He knows that Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have always placed their trust in him. He appreciates that.

“In addition, Red Bull is simply a great brand that he can extremely identify with. So there are many reasons for staying – and none against.”

Verstappen is on course to wrap up his fourth championship in a row this year.

But the departure of chief technical officer Newey has asked questions of the rest of Red Bull’s senior hierarchy.

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