Mercedes boss believes Verstappen will be world champion

Mat Coch

Monday 19th November, 2018 - 7:34am

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Max Verstappen

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Max Verstappen will be a Formula 1 world champion at some point during his career.

Wolff’s comments follow a controversial tangle at the Brazilian Grand Prix between the Dutchman and Mercedes junior driver Esteban Ocon.

The latter had tried to unlap himself from race leader Verstappen before they made contact and spun at Turn 2.

Second placed Lewis Hamilton was able to capitalise and went on to win the race helping Mercedes to its fifth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship.

Wolff though believes Verstappen has the necessary ability to be a world champion in future and it’s simply a matter of the 21-year-old refining his craft.

“You can see there is a future champion coming together, unbelievable talent and speed,” Wolff said.

“I think once the raw edges are off he will be somebody who will be a world champion one day.

“In a few years he will look at the footage of (the Ocon clash) and maybe have his own opinion as to whether that was the right behaviour or not.

“But you can’t accelerate those things. This is a learning process.”

The Mercedes team principal stated he believed there is no way Ocon would have deliberately triggered the collision.

“Emotions are running high, and I think that the incident was unfortunate,” he added.

“(Ocon) was on a new tyre, much faster, tried to unlap himself, which is fair enough.

“Then they crashed and because Max was in the lead that was an incident that I’m sure Esteban would have wanted to avoid, rather than being out there in the press with all the criticism.”

At the time Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko stoked the conspiracy theories fire by suggesting the crash was a result of Ocon being promised a factory Mercedes seat in 2020.

“This is how Dr. Marko sees the world, and I want to leave it with that,” Wolff asserted.

“I don’t want to go on this level. We have a fifth world championship to celebrate.”

While Verstappen went on to finish second Ocon picked up a ten-second stop-go penalty which saw him end the race 15th.

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