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“We’ve still got unfinished business”, said Lewis Hamilton when he signed the extension with Mercedes last year. However, just half a year later, it seems like the 7X champ doesn’t care about that unfinished business anymore as he makes his way to Ferrari for 2025, leaving Toto Wolff with a headache to fill the massive boots left behind with him. But with Max Verstappen rumored to want to leave Red Bull, Wolff is trying his best to get the Dutchman. So much so that he’s ready to let Verstappen bring Marko with him.

When a driver like Lewis Hamilton, the most successful driver in the history of F1, leaves a team, it is bound to impact the morale of the people working. Why would Hamilton, who talked about being loyal to Mercedes till the end, switch teams and move to Ferrari? Regardless, what better way to make a statement and improve the morale of the struggling team than by signing the current world champion and the only driver on the current grid to have beaten Lewis Hamilton in somewhat equal machinery? 

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Toto Wolff reportedly had offered Max Verstappen a larger salary than Lewis Hamilton to lure in the Dutchman and escalate signing him, i.e., more than $55 Million. It just goes on to show how desperate Toto Wolff is to fill the void that Hamilton leaves behind. Even Tom Clarkson suggested how Toto Wolff needs a signature signing and even asked Verstappen to bring in Helmut Marko if need be. 

Tom Clarkson, on the F1 Nation podcast, said, “Now that Fernando Alonso is locked in at Aston Martin, Max is either going to stay at Red Bull or move to Mercedes. In Japan, I was told by several people that Toto Wolff is pursuing Max very strongly. He needs a signature signing because the last three years haven’t been going very well for the team, and it would be a real statement of intent. It was even mentioned to me that he said to Max, ‘Bring Helmut Marko with you if that’s what it requires.’”

Toto Wolff needs a Marquee signing, and anyone less than Max Verstappen isn’t going to cut it. However, if Max Verstappen isn’t able, Carlos Sainz would be a great bet, especially given the form that he is in. And it’s even rumored that Wolff has already presented the Spaniard with an offer to join. 

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Get ready for Max Verstappen at Mercedes

With Fernando Alonso signing with Aston Martin and Kimi Antonelli still not considered ready for F1, Mercedes realistically only have Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to pick from the top drivers. According to Corriere Dello Sport, rumors suggest Carlos Sainz has already signed with Mercedes. Whereas, funoanalisitecnica.com suggests that Mercedes has offered Sainz a 2-year contract.

via Reuters

However, Carlos Sainz is believed to want a 2-year contract with an option to extend for one year, but Mercedes is only offering a 1+1 contract where the second year will be based on specified criteria. The disagreement between the two regarding the length of the contract seems to be what’s holding up the pen from the paper.

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Who do you think Toto Wolff will end up signing? Max Verstappen or Carlos Sainz?

Written by

Pranay Bhagi

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Pranay is an F1 Content Analyst and writer at EssentiallySports who effortlessly blends his technical knowledge and passion for F1 in his writing. He has a knack for unique content research and specializes in trend-setting articles. Pranay’s coverage of the departure of Guenther Steiner from Haas received appreciation from readers.
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Edited by

Jacob Gijy