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Mercedes make Max Verstappen ‘No 1 target’ but have three back-ups if Red Bull block move

“(Russell’s) a bank,” Wolff explained. “He’s having that seat, he’s been part of our junior programme for a long time. The reason why is because he’s great, so it’s about the second seat.

“I think it depends also on what Max does. Then we have a young kid (Antonelli) that is very promising and I don’t want to put more extra pressure on him, but it looks like he can be one of the great ones.

“But we also don’t want to drown him by jumping so quickly in an F1 car at 17. So there are a few options that we play with him. Obviously, there’s Fernando (Alonso) who is very exciting, and Carlos (Sainz) is very good. So there are a few ones. I’m gonna make the play like a bride – difficult to get!”

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