Wolff denies Mercedes had contract talks with Vettel
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff insists that the team did not have any discussions with Sebastian Vettel about a possible future drive, contradicting non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
Earlier on Saturday Lauda told Sky F1 that there had been a discussion two months ago, but that it had fizzled out when it became clear that Vettel was planning to stay at Ferrari.
"We discussed it briefly once with him, but the more competitive Ferrari goes the less the reason he would want to leave," said Lauda. "So therefore we stopped right away a couple of months ago."
He then suggested that Vettel had used Mercedes to ramp up his value.
"I think every driver, if he's clever, talks to more than one team. Then when you negotiate you're in a better position. That's what he did," he added.
However, Wolff was keen to downplay the comments of his fellow Austrian, suggesting that there had been "confusion" about what was said, but he admitted that Lauda and Vettel did have a general chat about the future when they bumped into each other at a race.
"There were zero discussions with Sebastian around a contract between him and Mercedes," said Wolff.
"I don't know what Niki was asked, but at the end of the day you cross each other out there in the paddock, and sometimes you're like, 'What are you doing? What's happening?' No discussion did take place, zero confusion."
Asked why Lauda would say there had been a discussion, Wolff replied: "Because Niki has a chat over coffee with Sebastian down there and says, 'By the way what are you doing the next three years?' And Sebastian says, 'Well, I'm thinking about it.' They had a conversation.
"They didn't have coffee actually, because there is no coffee out there between the hospitalities, so I think it was just crossing each other. I'm not meaning that in a negative way.
"I think the exchange and communication is important, and Niki is our ambassador in that sense, and this might have happened around then. But there was no discussion."
Wolff suggested once again that confirmation of an extended contract for Valtteri Bottas is not far away.
"It's a no-brainer as it stands for next year to continue with Valtteri, it's just down to the nitty gritty detail in the paperwork, and see how it pans out in the future. There's a pretty big chance that he will be here also."
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