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
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022