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Wolff 'advised' Verstappen to sign with Red Bull

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull RB10 driving at Monaco

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull RB10 driving at Monaco

Toto Wolff has admitted Mercedes came close to signing up F1 rookie sensation Max Verstappen.

Ultimately, the 16-year-old Dutchman and his father-manager Jos Verstappen went with Red Bull's famous driver programme, after Dr Helmut Marko promised him a race seat for 2015 at Toro Rosso.

"We had several meetings with Jos and Max," Wolff, Mercedes' motor sport chief, confirmed to the German newspaper Bild.

"He is certainly a great talent, but we would not and could not guarantee him a seat with us in formula one.

"So I advised them to accept the offer from Red Bull," Wolff confirmed.

Verstappen's signing at a very young age - before he even qualifies for a license to drive a road car - is controversial and it will be a big talking point throughout the Belgian GP weekend.

But F1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi thinks the talented Dutchman can be ready for his record-breaking 2015 debut.

"Today, with all the electronic help, young drivers with talent are able to go very fast right off the bat," he told Brazil's Globo.

"Last year I had the chance to drive a new Lotus and the car is really well balanced.

"The drivers also have a very large support team around them.

"I am good friends with Franz Tost, he has worked with the drivers who later went to Red Bull like Vettel and Ricciardo, so I trust him a lot," Fittipaldi added.

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