Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has revealed the reason why the team did not sign Max Verstappen when it had the chance to in 2014.
When Verstappen was making waves in Formula Three, it was understood that he was courting interest from both Red Bull and Mercedes.
The teenager eventually signed for Red Bull and was announced as a Formula One driver for the following season just six days later.
Now Toto Wolff has revealed that Mercedes didn't feel they could give Verstappen the same opportunity as Red Bull, with their lack of junior team and, at the time, fully-contracted driver lineup.
"We simply had no availability for him, so Red Bull was his best option," admitted Wolff.
"We are not disappointed with anything in the past," he insisted.
"I wanted to find him a place, but with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg we have the perfect driver pairing - so far we have won two constructors championships and it is looking good again - so there was the logical thing, to stay with those two."
Verstappen has since gone on to become a race winner in F1, but Wolff was all to aware of the Dutchman's potential early on.
"He was an exceptional kid in karts," Wolff said. "Then he won in the Formula Three championship against all odds with an inferior car."
"Esteban Ocon [now Mercedes young driver programme member] was his opponent then - that says a lot," he added. "But yes, the real test is F1 - and now we see the result."