Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff warned Max Verstappen’s father, Jos, that it would be bad for his son to be remembered for playing a decisive role in this year’s fight for the drivers’ championship.
Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are currently embroiled in a close battle for this year’s title with two races remaining in the season.
Verstappen, 19, has been one of F1’s breakout stars in 2016, becoming the youngest winner in the sport’s history in Spain and scoring a number of other podium finishes with Red Bull.
However, his on-track antics have piqued the attention of his peers, with Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean all previously voicing concern about his aggressive approach.
Wolff has become the latest figure to flag it up, believing Verstappen could play a part in deciding the title fight between his drivers.
Wolff got in contact with Jos Verstappen, himself an ex-F1 driver, to air his thoughts ahead of this weekend’s race at Interlagos in Brazil.
“My main message for Jos was that he should come to the races again because he seems to be the only guy that Max really listens to and respects,” Wolff told British newspaper The Times.
“And I also said to him that it would be bad for Max if he was remembered for deciding the world championship this year through a reckless move against one of our drivers.
“Everybody wants to see hard racing but, for the sake of Max and of our boys, an all-in move that could ultimately kill their championship aspirations is too much.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed the story to Sky Sports, expressing his surprise that Wolff deemed it necessary to go to such lengths.
“Jos told me when he got here on Thursday, and I was just a bit surprised that Toto was calling another driver’s father from another team,” Horner said.
“I think Jos was a bit surprised when he put the phone down to Toto that not only was he commenting on behalf of Mercedes, but Ferrari as well, that the way Max was conducting himself wasn’t winning him any favors and he should wind his neck in.
“I’ve not heard of a team principal calling up other driver’s fathers before, but obviously Toto felt the need to do so.”
Verstappen was non-plussed by the affair, though, brushing off Wolff’s thoughts when talking to NBCSN after qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday.
“It’s all a bit exaggerated,” Verstappen said.
“We’re here to race for our own team. We’re not here to race for Mercedes.”