Wolff: Mercedes won't be "flirting" with other F1 drivers

Mercedes has no intention of "flirting" with other drivers over potential future race seats until it knows what is happening with its current Formula 1 line-up

Wolff: Mercedes won't be "flirting" with other F1 drivers

With both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas only signing one-year contract extensions with the team, the German manufacturer could find itself exposed for 2022 if either of them move on.

But while Max Verstappen has emerged as an obvious target for Mercedes if Hamilton does not continue in F1 beyond this year, the team has played down any talk of it scouting options early.

Speaking at the launch of the new Mercedes W12, team principal Toto Wolff said that the focus was very much on continuing with Hamilton - and that is why it would not be looking at anyone else for now.

"The symbiosis that we have in the relationship, it's always that we have a mutual understanding of what we want to do in the future," he said. "And that will be also the case in the discussions with Lewis going forward.

"Max is certainly an outstanding young driver that will be on everybody's radar in the future, but we are not flirting outside before we have a clear understanding with our two drivers."

Wolff was clear, however, that Mercedes and Hamilton would not repeat what happened last year when contract negotiations dragged on during the winter.

"We have agreed that we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year, to avoid a situation like we had in 2020 where we ran out of time and were in the uncomfortable position that there is no time left before the beginning of the [next] season.

"That's also why we only did a one-year contract: in order to allow us to discuss the future in racing and outside of racing longer. And with the right amount of time.

"What we've decided is to discuss things much earlier this year, not at the end of the season."

PLUS: How Hamilton's one-year deal opens up the 2022 driver market

Wolff said that the team was comfortable with things and had no doubts if Hamilton continued that it would be with Mercedes.

"I think if Lewis continues to race we will want to do this together. And we will discuss it shortly," he said. "And with Valtteri, we know exactly what we have and we appreciate this.

"At the same time the landscape changes with new cars, new regulations, and we've got to take the right decision for the team going forward. But that also means that we will have the discussions with our two drivers first, and then we will see where that goes."

Despite Hamilton making it clear that he was not interested in committing himself to a longer term deal, Wolff said he had no doubts about the world champion still remaining in love with F1.

"No, no doubt about his commitment," he said. "First of all, he enjoys racing a lot. We enjoy working with each other. And we discussed that a lot.

"But he's absolutely right. Times change. New priorities for all of us in terms of the way we live our health. He's very passionate about his initiatives, against racism and inequality.

"And then we have this massive regulatory change in 2022, that's going to reshape what Formula 1 will be for the next few years.

"But I don't think that this plays a role, to be honest. I think it's fair enough for a driver that has won seven championships, to give himself the flexibility in his mind to decide what he wants to do in the future, whether this is racing or outside of the circus."

shares
comments
Mercedes confesses to hiding new W12 F1 car floor from rivals

Previous article

Mercedes confesses to hiding new W12 F1 car floor from rivals

Next article

Alpine A521 F1 car unveiled following winter rebrand

Alpine A521 F1 car unveiled following winter rebrand
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Susie Wolff
Teams Mercedes
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash Plus

Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas' collision at Imola on Sunday prompted fury in the Formula 1 paddock. But Russell's carefully-worded heartfelt statement later, acknowledging that his initial response was wrong, proved the right move

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight Plus

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight

In Max Verstappen's Formula 1 career to date, he has been cast as the 'pretender', an acknowledged top-line performer without the car to regularly challenge Lewis Hamilton. But that no longer applies in 2021, and the start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the most telling signal yet of what we can expect from their duel this year

Formula 1
Apr 21, 2021
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Plus

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari Plus

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari

Ninety years ago, Rudolf Caracciola became the first non-Italian to win the epic Mille Miglia. We look at how he stacks up to the most famous pre-war ace Tazio Nuvolari, one of the drivers he beat on that day in 1931

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021