Mercedes not worried about a shortage of top F1 drivers

Toto Wolff has no concerns about Mercedes potentially facing a shortage of top-level Formula 1 drivers, despite young stars Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc signing long-term deals with rival teams

Mercedes not worried about a shortage of top F1 drivers

Leclerc's new contract with Ferrari runs through 2024, while fellow 22-year-old Verstappen - who has been on Mercedes' radar in the past - has extended his Red Bull deal through 2023.

While Mercedes is the heavy favourite to retain its star driver Lewis Hamilton, both he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas are over 30.

Asked about the recent contract extension for Leclerc and Verstappen, Mercedes team boss Wolff pointed to Esteban Ocon and George Russell - two Mercedes-linked drivers under contract through 2021 with Renault and Williams respectively - as natural options down the line.

"Well, I think we have very exciting young drivers that are part of the Mercedes family, like George Russell, who is a Mercedes junior driver, who I foresee a bright future [for]," Wolff said.

"Then we have Esteban who is not too far away, who is with Renault today, but he's a cousin of the Mercedes family today.

"And looking at Max and Charles, these guys will always strive to be in the fastest cars, and contracts are contracts, probably sometimes the detail is what is important and not the overhead line on how long a contract has been signed [for].

"And therefore, I see our duty in providing and producing the car that is the quickest, and then we will not run out of talent that will be keen and eager to drive these cars."

Six-time F1 champion Hamilton, linked with a potential move to Ferrari throughout 2019, moved to dismiss reports in the off-season that his talks with Mercedes had not been progressing well.

Wolff reiterated that he saw Hamilton continuing with Mercedes as the logical outcome, but stressed that they hadn't been negotiating over the winter.

"I think it is the obvious pairing going forward," Wolff said.

"We would like to have the fastest man in the car, and I know that Lewis wants to be in the fastest car so there's an obvious mutual outcome.

"But you know, we travel around the world almost 10 months every year.

"We go on our nerves every second weekend. And what we do over winter is we leave each other in peace.

"The last conversation I had with him was in the evening before the Christmas party.

"We had a nice chat, that we would continue our discussion or start or discussion once he comes back from America and we have properly kicked off the season.

"I have great belief in the abilities of the team to attract the best drivers.

"And at the moment Lewis has proven that he is the best current driver with his six titles.

"And on the mid- and long-term, I would hope that we're able to continue to provide technology to the best driver and attract them."

shares
comments
AlphaTauri sets deadline to take customer Red Bull 2021 gearbox

Previous article

AlphaTauri sets deadline to take customer Red Bull 2021 gearbox

Next article

Why stability can help Haas recover from its 2019 nadir

Why stability can help Haas recover from its 2019 nadir
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey Plus

The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey

In the first part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH recalls how Formula 1 wasn’t an immediate priority for team founder Colin Chapman – but once he got a taste for it he just couldn’t stop…

Formula 1
May 9, 2021
How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher Plus

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton has just become the first driver to record 100 world championship Formula 1 pole positions. Time to revisit a debate we discussed when he reached 150 front row starts in 2020.

Formula 1
May 8, 2021
Why sustainability is being mandated by F1 Plus

Why sustainability is being mandated by F1

Continuing to be socially acceptable as public views shift globally is vitally important to the future of motor racing, says PAT SYMONDS - especially in Formula 1, the championship that represents the technological peak

Formula 1
May 8, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull's title credentials, and heap pressure on Verstappen Plus

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull's title credentials, and heap pressure on Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one big encouraging sign for Red Bull. The trouble is, it looks like making good on that gain will require its superstar driver to avoid repeating a mistake made today that left him well down the FP2 order

Formula 1
May 7, 2021