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
The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Plus

The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate 
and devoid of the usual
 racing driver airs and graces,
 Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Plus

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Plus

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022
Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre? Plus

Could F1 move to a future beyond carbonfibre?

Formula 1 has ambitious goals for improving its carbon footprint, but could this include banishing its favoured composite material? PAT SYMONDS considers the alternatives to carbonfibre and what use, if any, those materials have in a Formula 1 setting

Formula 1
Aug 6, 2022