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Mintzlaff warns Wolff off Verstappen

NEWS STORY
05/05/2024

Red Bull managing director, Oliver Mintzlaff has hit out at Toto Wolff for his attempts to lure Max Verstappen away from the Austrian team.

Part of the fallout ever since the Christian Horner saga first broke earlier this year was speculation that Max Verstappen might leave the team, and with a vacancy at Mercedes following Lewis Hamilton's signing for Ferrari, it made sense that Wolff might target the three-time world champion.

Wolff, personally hasn't said too much on the subject, other than to admit that he would love to have the Dutchman in one of his cars, while the tabloid media talks of offers in excess of 200 million ($250m).

"This is a decision that Max needs to take," said Wolff recently, "but there is no team up and down the grid that wouldn't do handstands to have him in the car.

"I'd love to have him," he continued, "but first we need to sort out our car. First, we owe it to George and Lewis to improve the car and give them equipment that is good before dreaming about the future next year."

Of course, Wolff's comments are about further destabilising a rival team as anything else, but nonetheless in a rare interview with Bild Am Sonntag, Oliver Mintzlaff has called on Wolff to ease off on the public courtship of his driver.

"I understand the pressure that Toto Wolff and perhaps other teams have after years of being behind," he said. "But I think Toto should concentrate on his challenges. He has enough of those.

"It also has something to do with respect," he added. "If I keep talking about the personnel of other teams, that's not right.

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

Indeed, despite claims by the likes of Zak Brown that the Horner saga led to the departure of Adrian Newey, Mintzlaff insists that there is no reason why Verstappen should be seeking an out at this time.

"At least I can't think of any," he said. "Max wants the fastest car... we have this. Max wants to become world champion... with us, he has the best chances.

"Max is a loyal guy," he added. "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."

And talking of Horner, Mintzlaff was keen to give his backing to the Red Bull boss.

"He only has the team's success in mind and is a very good CEO," he said. "I am convinced of that."

Referring to Adrian Newey, who this week confirmed his departure from the team after two decades, he said: "Adrian has done great things here over the years and played a big part in us winning 13 world championship titles.

"It's obviously a shame that he's leaving us, but we discussed it in a very fair and respectful dialogue. What he leaves behind is not only a unique legacy but also a structure that he helped to build.

"Of course, we will miss him, also as a person, but tomorrow we will still know how to build a very fast Formula 1 car."

Looking ahead, mindful of the fact that from 2026 Red Bull is a manufacturer as well as constructor, he said: "In 2026 we want to continue where we are currently: at the top of Formula 1. Of course, there is no guarantee of this, but while we have proven that we can handle major rule changes, other teams have not managed to close the gap for three years.

"Max will also have noticed this, and it makes me look totally positive into the future. We haven't just been preparing for 2026 since yesterday. Sure, building your own engine is a big task and challenge, but we are confident that we can master this step. This is the next stage of development for Red Bull."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 05/05/2024 19:37

"The ‘Streisand effect’ is in action here. "

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2. Posted by West York, 05/05/2024 19:26

"So basically, "I'm worried that Max might want to go elsewhere, so back off - pretty please???"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/05/2024 14:29

"Quite frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

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4. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 05/05/2024 13:10

"It takes like zero energy for Toto state the obvious to the press. Mercedes can do both; make public statements for their desire for Max along with developing their car car."

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