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Max Verstappen

How Red Bull beat Mercedes to Verstappen

Jos Verstappen has revealed how Mercedes and Red Bull both fought over Max Verstappen back in 2014.

Wolff Verstappen Ecclestone Ricciardo 2016
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Jos Verstappen has revealed the high-level talks that took place behind the scenes as Red Bull and Mercedes both tried to find a way to get Max Verstappen into one of their cars.

With Verstappen impressing Red Bull's Helmut Marko during his F3 campaign in 2014, the Austrian was determined to find an opening for the precocious Dutch driver - but Mercedes were also interested.

"I remember exactly what time it was when Helmut Marko called. It was 08:12 in the morning," Verstappen senior explained about the most important phone call of Max's life in the documentary 'MAXimum Verstappen' by ServusTV.

"He asked me if he had woke me, but I indicated that I was already awake."

Picking up the story, Marko said the phone call had been to advise Jos on the next step for Max.

"I said, 'Jos, forget everything we've discussed so far. We [Red Bull] know Formula 1 inside and out'," Marko explained.

"A long silence followed. I thought the connection had been broken. I was surprised that Jos was surprised at all."

Jos explained that discussions had been held with Mercedes that year as well, thanks to the intervention of the late Niki Lauda.

"Niki had seen us in the paddock in Hockenheim and, one minute later, he was on the phone," Verstappen senior explained.

"If he could speak to us too... Yes, of course he could! We walked out of the Red Bull motorhome and walked straight into Mercedes. There, we spoke for five minutes with Niki and with Toto [Wolff, team boss]."

Red Bull win the battle

The discussions between the parties to figure out what to do with Max reached a conclusion very quickly, as Mercedes asked the Verstappens what Red Bull's plans were.

"They [Mercedes] asked us what Red Bull wanted with us," Jos explained.

When told that Red Bull wanted to put him in the Toro Rosso, Mercedes weren't able to make a counter-offer. Red Bull's winning hand was explained by team boss Christian Horner.

"With us, he didn't have to go to Formula 2, but he could go 'Bam!' directly to Formula 1," Horner said.

"Red Bull had, and has, a B-team as a constructor, with which it can store young talents in Formula 1, a luxury that Mercedes does not have.

"It is not for nothing that several Mercedes youngsters have missed the mark in recent years."

Obvious examples of this are Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon - promising Mercedes talents who couldn't find their way into the Mercedes team.

Wehrlein's F1 career concluded at the end of the 2017 season after his progress stalled at Sauber, while Ocon has found a long-term home away from Mercedes with the Alpine team.

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