Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is not going to try to capture Max Verstappen for next season. Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will have Valtteri Bottas or Esteban Ocon next year as second driver.
With that announcement, Wolff ends rumors on Saturday about a possible switch from Verstappen to Mercedes in 2020. This week in Hungary, there was speculation about switching in various media.
The Mercedes team boss would have been spotted together with Jos Verstappen, the father of the driver, in a restaurant in Budapest for an extensive dinner. "That is not entirely true, because with Jos you never have a dinner. At most you have a drink with him", Wolff laughed.
Then he continued seriously: "I have indeed talked to Jos, I do that often. But that was not about a seat at Mercedes in 2020 for Max."
Wolff praises development and personality Verstappen
The boss of the racing team, who became world champion for the last five years, was very enthusiastic about Verstappen. "Max has grown enormously and is performing very well this year. But he is still under contract with Red Bull. We respect that."
The Austrian said that you not only find the performance of Verstappen - who took pole position for the first time on Saturday - impressive, but he also likes the development in his personality. "You will never again hear an untrue word from him about Honda or Red Bull. That is what I would like to see from a driver."
"Who knows what will happen after 2020. But at the moment Max is in the right place at Red Bull," says Wolff.
301Preview F1: Still chances for Verstappen?
"Bottas and Ocon both deserve a seat"
Because Hamilton still has a contract until the end of 2020, there is one place left for Mercedes for the coming season. That will be forgiven to Bottas of Ocon, Wolff announced.
The 29-year-old Finn has been in the shadow of Hamilton at Mercedes for almost three years. He won five races in that period, including two this year. Bottas is currently behind Hamilton and ahead of Verstappen second in the World Cup stand.
The 22-year-old Ocon drove 2.5 years in Formula 1 at Racing Point and Manor. When he found no seat for this year, Mercedes hired the driver as a spare driver.
"Sometime after the summer we are going to make the decision. Actually, Valtteri and Esteban both deserve the seat. If I had two places, I would take them both," Wolff expressed doubts.
The team boss reported that Ocon will be in Formula 1 next season anyway. "If Valtteri is chosen, then Esteban can go where he wants. I told him that I don't want to thwart his career by holding him. Other teams have already inquired about him."
Wolff reported that he considers Williams driver George Russell (21), who, just like Ocon, from the Mercedes talent training, to be inexperienced. "The pressure at Mercedes is enormous, you are supposed to fight here to win. The risk of compromising for Russell is too great."
See also: Overjoyed Verstappen: 'I still missed pole position on my list'