Mercedes has no intention to "flirt" with other drivers yet

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.

Listen to this article

With both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas only signing one-year contract extensions with the team, the German car 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."

Read Also:

Wolff was clear, however, that Mercedes and Hamilton would not repeat what happened last year when contract negotiations dragged on in to 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."

Wolff said that the team was comfortable with things and had no doubts that 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

Related video

The tricky driver conundrums facing Mercedes in F1 2021
Previous article

The tricky driver conundrums facing Mercedes in F1 2021

Next article

Mercedes staying silent on F1 token spend for W12 car

Mercedes staying silent on F1 token spend for W12 car
Inside AlphaTauri’s Faenza F1 factory Prime

Inside AlphaTauri’s Faenza F1 factory

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s Oleg Karpov on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow.

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc Prime

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career.

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Prime

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Max Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Prime

Does Max Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Prime

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
The breakthrough behind Sainz's best weekend of F1 2022 so far Prime

The breakthrough behind Sainz's best weekend of F1 2022 so far

OPINION: Carlos Sainz came close to winning in Monaco but needed that race’s specific circumstances for his shot at a maiden Formula 1 victory to appear. Last weekend in Canada, he led the line for Ferrari in Charles Leclerc’s absence from the front. And there’s a key reason why Sainz has turned his 2022 form around

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
Why “faster” Ferrari couldn’t beat Red Bull in Canadian GP Prime

Why “faster” Ferrari couldn’t beat Red Bull in Canadian GP

On paper the Canadian Grand Prix will go down as Max Verstappen’s latest triumph, fending off late pressure from Carlos Sainz to extend his Formula 1 world championship lead. But as safety car periods, virtual and real, shook up the race Ferrari demonstrated it can take the fight to Red Bull after recent failures.

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022
Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Prime

Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

Plenty of high scores but just a single perfect 10 from the first Montreal race in three years, as Max Verstappen fended off late pressure from Carlos Sainz. Here’s Autosport’s assessment on the Formula 1 drivers from the Canadian Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022