Toto Wolff advised Max Verstappen to join Red Bull in 2014
Toto Wolff, team principle of Mercedes, revealed that early in Max's big motorsport career he advised him to join Red Bull after an unsuccessful offer from Mercedes. He, like many, understood that Verstappen have been a future champion and a rising star of Formula 1.
When the Dutchman was still a teenager, many teams and major personalities of motorsport began to pay attention to him, especially after a successful season in the European F3 Championship. At the time, Max raced with Van Amersfoort Racing and distinguished himself by winning six races in a row, which in turn was the all-time series record. After that, Red Bull offered him a place in Toro Rosso, and a year later gave him a place in the main team.
But things could have turned out completely differently for the two-time world champion had he accepted the Silver Arrows' offer in 2016. As Toto Wolff said, in 2014 Max seemed to him the most talented and promising young racer. Therefore, together with Niki Lauda they began a kind of negotiations with the Dutchman.
"It was clear that Max was an interesting young man, but at that time Mercedes could only offer him a seat in the GP2 class. And then maybe an F1 contract. However, Helmut was able to offer him a seat in Formula 1.”
At that time Mercedes had a fully formed roster of pilots, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, both with long-term contracts. That is, the German team was only able to offer a place in GP2 (former Formula 2), and it absolutely did not guarantee a contract with a team in F1. At the same time Helmut Marko decided not to trifle and immediately offered Max a place in their subsidiary team with the possibility of transfer to the main.
"But Helmut was able to offer him a seat in Formula 1 and I finally advised him to go that route too. And that meant seeing him leave the Mercedes orbit,"
The Mercedes executive also noted that having a second team like Red Bull is a great advantage. Thus, the Austrian team "tests" the young pilots on the track, behind the wheel of an F1 car, as well as the power units. But in the opinion of Toto Wolff such a fee is too high.
"It is undoubtedly an advantage, but it is a very expensive operation. You have to be able to afford to spend 100 million a season."
How would Max Verstappen's career have developed if he had accepted Mercedes' offer? That we will never know, although, of course, we can make quite a lot of assumptions. Offer of the German team was less tempting, because the choice of the Dutchman looks quite obvious. As you can see, almost 9 years later, the choice was not wrong.