F1: Toto Wolff confirms Mercedes' first-choice candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton

F1: Toto Wolff confirms Mercedes' first-choice candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has confirmed he is interested in a longshot move to sign Max Verstappen for the 2025 Formula One season.

The triple world champion has been subject to rumours of discontent amid the fallout from the investigation into Christian Horner, whose relationship with Verstappen’s father, Jos, is said to be strained.

Lewis Hamilton will depart Mercedes at the end of the F1 campaign to join Ferrari, leading to some suggestions that his current team will attempt to sign Verstappen.

Despite the Dutchman committing his future to Red Bull, Wolff is willing to test his resolve.

"We have a slot free, the only one in the top teams - unless Max decides he goes and then the slot is not going to be free with us anymore," he told Fox Sports at the Australian Grand Prix.

Wolff tried to sign Verstappen as a teenager yet he joined Red Bull because Mercedes could not offer him an F1 seat immediately - but the Austrian has insisted that he still has a good relationship with Max’s influential father Jos.

Asked if Verstappen would be his number one pick, Wolff replied: "Yes. You see what his performance levels are but I wouldn't want to discount the other ones too."

He added: “It's a kind of relationship that needs to happen at a certain stage, but we don't know when.”

Wolff also mentioned double world champion Fernando Alonso, outgoing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz and Mercedes-backed F2 rookie Kimi Antonelli as possible options.

“Obviously there's Fernando, who's very exciting, and Carlos, very good. So there's a few ones,” he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.