Toto Wolff considered ‘stealing’ one of Red Bull’s drivers but decided against it at the last moment

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that the thought of stealing one of Red Bull’s driver has crossed his mind, but he had to change his mind about it at the last moment.

Mercedes boasts of one of the most formidable driver line-ups with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton being partnered at the team by promising youngster George Russell.

However, the driver that Wolff was alluding to was Nyck de Vries, who recently made the move from Mercedes to Red Bull as he signed a deal with AlphaTauri.

The Dutchman was one of the reserve drivers for Mercedes last season and participated once during free practice in place of Hamilton.

However, his big moment came during the Italian Grand Prix, when de Vries stood in for Alex Albon to make his F1 race debut.

His performance was largely seen as a successful outing and a number of bosses were reportedly interesting in signing him.

When Pierre Gasly left AlphaTauri for Alpine, the door opened for de Vries to stake a claim for a full-time role.

Wolff was asked whether he ever considered bringing de Vries back to Mercedes.

Wolff replied: “I thought about it.”

Wolff is a big fan of de Vries and believes he could one day feature for an elite team in F1.

“I hope that he’s successful in AlphaTauri. I hope he will be so good to make it into a Red Bull seat one day, because he deserves that,” Wolff said.

“And then we take it like sportsmen, and we fight it out.”

Wolff is happy with the project that de Vries has in front of him.

“I think if one of the teams who still have a free seat don’t pick him up now, then I don’t understand the world anymore.”

Max played a crucial role

Nyck de Vries and Max Verstappen. Credit:
Nyck de Vries and Max Verstappen. Credit:

None of this may have happened had de Vries not taken Max Verstappen’s advice to give Red Bull chief Helmut Marko a call.

De Vries explained how events unfolded.

“I had dinner with Max on Monday evening in Monaco to kind of celebrate [the weekend]. We talked about it openly, about the possibilities and opportunities,” he said.

“We talked about potentially AlphaTauri, Dr Marko, and that’s how it went. Later that week I was seen in Graz.

“We had a great time together. We spent two days eating Austrian local food, talking about the future together. He has a good sense of humour and we respected each other.

“I think he appreciated me for being there, representing myself, and having the conversations with him directly. Red Bull is all about performance and winning, and I share that, so it was very straightforward and enjoyable.”

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