Wolff cites Rosberg animosity to rule out Verstappen-Hamilton pairing

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff cited the tensions between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to rule out signing Max Verstappen.

In recent years, the Dutchman has often been subject to speculation regarding a move to the German manufacturer, particularly as Red Bull continue to lag behind performance-wise.

Now, Honda's decision to withdraw from Formula 1 has reignited suggestions Verstappen may seek an early exit from the three-year deal he signed in January until the end of 2023.

But even if he approached Mercedes again, Wolff says there's no room at the inn.

“The situation around Max doesn’t provide any opportunity now,” he told the Beyond the Grid F1 podcast.

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“He’s bound to Red Bull, I respect his loyalty a lot. I think it’s important for Red Bull to have Max.

"There is a lot of narrative around that and Red Bull picked him up from very early on when he joined Toro Rosso, so the situation is what it is, it’s good for him and good for us."

As for his current drivers: “Valtteri [Bottas] does a great job and Lewis does a great job for us, and they are both at the peak of their performance levels," he added.

"Then we have juniors that are coming up that have been with us for many years and could be the future for us, and this is what we look at.”

As for the prospect of teaming Verstappen up alongside Hamilton, the top two drivers on the grid most would agree, memories of the last time Mercedes had a competitive driver pairing remain all too fresh.

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“[The Hamilton and Rosberg line-up] was very difficult because when you have so much negativity in the room… there was a lot of negativity, and that would drag the whole room down,” Wolff recalled.

“We came to a point where we said, ‘That’s just not feasible anymore’ and we talked about it, but the animosity between the drivers was still there, and much beyond the point that Nico retired.

"That’s why it’s so refreshing that since the year Valtteri joined, we haven’t had any of that.”