Wolff said that the Dutchman’s clashes with Esteban Ocon on and off the track in Interlagos indicated that he still has some learning to do.
The Mercedes chief has long been a fan of Verstappen, having tried to sign him before he made a commitment to Red Bull.
“You can see that there is a future champion coming together,” said Wolff when asked how big a threat Verstappen will be next season. “Unbelievable talent and speed.
“And I think once the raw edges are off, he will be somebody who will be a world champion one day.
“In a few years he will look at the footage of today and maybe have his own opinion about whether that was the right behaviour or not.
“But you can’t accelerate these things, this is a learning process.”
Wolff defended the actions of Mercedes protege Ocon, who was penalised for the clash with Verstappen.
“Emotions are running high, and I think that the incident was unfortunate. He was on a new tyre, much faster, tried to unlap himself, which is fair enough.
“Then they crashed and because Max was in the lead that was an incident that I’m sure Esteban would have wanted to avoid, rather than being out there in the press with all the criticism.”
Like Wolff, Mercedes’ world drivers’ champion Lewis Hamilton – who inherited the race lead after the incident in question and went on to win the race – defended Ocon’s actions in trying to pass Verstappen.
“I’m pretty sure there’s no rule that says you can’t unlap yourself,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com. “I’ve done it before. Ultimately when you’re in Ocon’s position you’ve got nothing to lose.
“You want to get through, you’ve got much quicker tyres, and you’re trapped. If you’ve got much quicker tyres and the guy on front is not pushing flat out, which Max wasn’t, he was saving his tyres, so he’s cruising and holding him up, you’re going to go for it and try and get by and move yourself forwards.”
“From my seat it didn’t feel like it was 100% one side, more like maybe 60/40, who knows.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, passes a spinning Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, after the latter suffers a collision with Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11 Mercedes.
Photo by: Andy Hone / LAT Images