Turkish Grand Prix: Max Verstappen 'disappointed' by qualifying
Max Verstappen is expected to be the heir to Lewis Hamilton when the 35-year-old decides to retire but it has come to light that Mercedes enquired about potentially partnering the Dutchman with the seven-time world champion a few years ago.
Verstappen became the youngest F1 driver of all time when he joined Toro Rosso in 2015 aged 17 years and 166 days.
A number of constructors were hoping to land the up-and-coming star, who is the son of ex-Aston Martin ace Jos.
Red Bull won the race for the youngster’s signature and sent him to Toro Rosso on a two-year loan.
However, Mercedes duo Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda attempted to hijack the deal, which would have seen Hamilton and Verstappen race alongside one another
In the documentary Whatever it Takes, which shows how Verstappen became one of the best F1 drivers in the word, his father Jos reflected on a poignant weekend at Germany’s Norisring.
“Helmut called me Monday morning after the Norisring where Max won all three races,” Jos said.
“Max was in a class of his own there. That made a huge impression on me and that convinced me. We discussed Formula 2 as a possible next step, or the GP3.”
Immediately after that conversation the dad and lad were spotted by Mercedes bosses.
“We walked out of the Red Bull hospitality and then Niki Lauda called,” Jos added.
“He said: ‘I see you are here with Max, can we talk to you for a moment?’
“So at Red Bull we walked out and I walked into the Mercedes hospitality. And there were Niki Lauda and Toto [Wolff]. Then Lauda asked, ‘What’s Helmut offering?’ Well, I said, ‘Two years at Toro Rosso’.
“Mercedes couldn’t guarantee that we would get into Formula 1, it was just that simple.”
Had Mercedes been able to put a two-year contract down on the table then Verstappen’s career could have taken a completely different path.
But it was not just the two major F1 powerhouses who were desperate to tie down the teenager.
“At the time, Max was already approached by Lotus, McLaren and Ferrari,” says Verstappen’s co-manager Reymond Vermeulen.
“Red Bull was interested in Max at a very early stage. You did notice that Max was already on the radar of junior programs.”
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