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Mercedes won’t rush F1 driver decision amid Verstappen rumours

Following Lewis Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari, Mercedes is on the lookout for a replacement to line up alongside George Russell from 2025.

There is no shortage of candidates available, with a range of initial options going from Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli, to more experienced drivers like Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon and Fernando Alonso.

However, the ongoing turmoil inside Red Bull in the wake of the investigation into allegations against Christian Horner has fuelled suggestions of there being a scenario where Mercedes could swoop for Max Verstappen.

That could either be as the result of him falling out with senior Red Bull management – with the Dutchman’s father Jos Verstappen having called for Horner to go – or him potentially being able to activate exit clauses in his contract if a new team boss comes in.

Wolff was pictured in discussions with Verstappen Sr. after the Bahrain Grand Prix, and it is understood that they had had dinner together earlier in the weekend.

With the Horner saga far from being at an end, Wolff is aware that there is little to gain by making an early call in case there are developments with Verstappen.

And the logic of waiting makes even more sense because Antonelli, whose progress Wolff wanted to see in the early F2 races, looks set for a tough start to the season with his Prema team having not started the season on the front foot.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Asked by Motorsport.com how hard it was to judge Antonelli now with Prema having a difficult time, Wolff said: “A championship-winning team 17th and 18th, in F2, that’s not at all where they should be.

“I think you can look at him against the team-mate, that is one of the comparisons, and I think Oliver Bearman is a top driver.

“But I think, like I always said, I’m almost guilty of talking too much. We will see how the next few races pan out.

“I’m in no hurry for us to take a decision on drivers. I’ve been rushed in a hurry by Lewis. So, this time around I’m going to take it easy and evaluate the market.”

The Verstappen situation remains fluid and it could be that the situation at Red Bull calms down and there is no reason for him to ponder options elsewhere.

Wolff is also well aware that Mercedes’ hand is weakened by the fact that it is currently nowhere near as competitive as Red Bull.

Asked if there was a chance that Verstappen could drive for Mercedes in 2025, Wolff said: “I think the driver will always choose the quickest car. That is fundamentally what it’s all about.

“At the moment the Red Bull is the quickest car, so that will obviously be the priority.”

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This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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