(Motorsport-Total.com) – Toto Wolff does not want to exclude Sebastian Vettel’s commitment to the 2021 Formula 1 season and beyond. However, the Mercedes team boss makes it clear that this is currently not the most likely variant: “If I had said in January that we would not be racing in the first half of the year, no one would have believed me, so we now want ours in particular Keep options open. “
As part of a video media round on Wednesday afternoon, Wolff once again emphasized that before the first race, you don’t want to make a driver decision for 2021. The contracts of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas expire. But before Mercedes makes a commitment, you want to see which talents may come to the fore in 2020.
Vettel is one of the more obvious candidates on the market. In addition, Mercedes would always have access to the junior George Russell parked at Williams. Esteban Ocon drives Renault in 2020 and 2021 and would only be available again after that. Therefore, one thing is certain for Wolff: The decision will be made “in the course of the summer”.
Wolff “sensed” that there was a crisis between Vettel and Ferrari when Charles Leclerc’s contract was extended by five years while Vettel was in the air. For Mercedes, the domino effect on the driver market came as “surprising” because: “It is not a good thing to start the season with a driver who you know will leave the team.”
Wolff clarifies: Hamilton & Bottas have “priority”
“Our priority,” says Wolff, “are the Mercedes drivers, Valtteri and Lewis. We are also watching George’s situation at Williams with great interest. But I don’t want to exclude anyone. Sebastian is a four-time world champion. You shouldn’t rule out someone like that. Who know what’s going to happen in the next few months? “
Photo gallery: Heidfeld’s teammates: “Natural talent” Räikkönen, Vettel underestimated
Kimi Raikkonen (Sauber, 2001): “They call him ‘Iceman’. But he really wanted to become world champion and trained hard. Some of what people say about him is true. Other things are not true. You won’t become world champion if you’re a lazy sack and don’t care about anything. If he was beaten, he didn’t like it. “
It’s not an empty phrase, “but it is courtesy not to just say no when a four-time world champion is available. You have to think about it. On the other hand, we have a fantastic pairing. I am very satisfied with our drivers and with George. But you never know. Maybe someone decides to stop and then suddenly there is a place free. “
“Let’s just think of Nico Rosberg,” recalls Wolff. “So we just keep our options open, but focus on talking to our current drivers.” Incidentally, they have not yet taken place, at least with Hamilton: “We didn’t see each other during the lockdown, but were in regular contact.”
New contract for Hamilton: Mercedes is in no hurry
Wolff makes it clear: “We didn’t negotiate a new contract. We have a lot of trust between us. We have been working together for a long time, and in all of the years we have never had to read the contract carefully and examine everything carefully because everything is always changing resulted in a very natural way. “
In this respect, there is no rush to tie down a new contract with Hamilton: “As soon as the races start again, we will see each other, get the contract off the shelf, look at the timing and numbers – and then hopefully come to an agreement fairly quickly”, Wolff outlines his desired scenario.
But the fact is: Just like Mercedes, the drivers keep their options open. Hamilton met twice with Ferrari President John Elkann in 2019 – and most recently admitted that in between he also thought about a year off. And Bottas manager Didier Coton has already knocked at Renault and supposedly also at Red Bull.
Wolff does not specifically deal with such rumors, but emphasizes: “That is exactly the reason why we do not report back in June and say: ‘No chance, Sebastian will not drive for us.’ Firstly, I wouldn’t want to refuse him as a seasoned racing driver. Secondly, I’ve seen crazier things that nobody expected. “