Verstappen 'surprised' to hear Mercedes switch rumours

Max Verstappen has joined his father in slamming suggestions he regularly talks on the phone to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

The rumours, triggered by Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, sparked suggestions the 21-year-old Dutchman might try to exercise a break clause in his contract and switch to Mercedes for 2020.

Verstappen's father Jos denied that Max even has Wolff's phone number.

Verstappen Jnr., speaking in Shanghai, agrees with his father that there is nothing to the speculation.

He said: "I was really surprised to read about it. I have never called Toto Wolff and he has never called me. He doesn't have my number so it's pretty funny. Toto and my father sometimes talk, but it's more about babies and karting."

Tight contract

He also refused to talk about the supposed performance-related exit clause in his contract. The rumours suggest if Red Bull drops out of the top three, he is free to leave.

He notes: "I cannot and will not talk about my contract. I think that's normal."

More important to the Dutchman is his 2019 car, which, according to Marko, has an "aerodynamic problem".

Verstappen said: "I feel better in the car than last year, but right now we are not fast enough."

READ: Red Bull built around Max Verstappen - Villeneuve

He said changes have been made since Bahrain, helped by the post-GP test.

"We know now what we did wrong with the setup. We'll see how the car behaves with the changes," he added, indicating they are related to the car's mechanical setup.

"It is not a big problem so it should be quickly resolved.  If we find the right balance, we can be closer to Mercedes and Ferrari."

Speaking to Kronen Zeitung newspaper, Marko agrees: "We see light at the end of the tunnel. The tests in Bahrain clarified the direction to go."

He denied that the "aerodynamic problems", uncharacteristic for an Adrian Newey car, reveal a fundamental issue with the 2019 machine.

Marko said: "It's aerodynamic problems, so I don't think we have to question the overall concept of the car. Then we have a good engine, although not quite at the level of Ferrari and Mercedes."

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