Mercedes to wait on new Hamilton deal

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said talks with Lewis Hamilton would not preclude a move for Sebastian Vettel, who is set to leave Ferrari.

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton face key talks.

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton face key talks.   -  Getty Images

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff will wait until the new season starts before discussing the renewal of a contract for six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

But Wolff said talks with Hamilton would not preclude a move for Sebastian Vettel, who is set to leave Ferrari at the end of the campaign.

A Formula One season delayed by coronavirus is due to start in Austria in July and Wolff told a conference call on Wednesday he hoped to have an agreement in place “pretty soon” with Hamilton.

The 35-year-old British driver is expected to agree on a new contract, but Wolff said no talks had yet taken place.

“We didn't see each other over lockdown, we were in different parts of the world but in regular contact,” said Wolff.

“We didn't work on any agreement between us but there is a lot of trust, we've been together for a long time and never in this time did we have to take the contract out and actually read what was written because it comes so naturally.

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“Once racing resumes we will spend some time together, take the contract out of the cupboard, look at the timings, the numbers, the rights, and hopefully have something pretty soon.”

As for the prospect of Vettel joining Mercedes, Wolff said: "It's not lip service, but we owe it to a four-time champion not to come out and say straight away, 'No'. You need to think about it.

“On the other side we have a fantastic line-up and I am very happy with both our pilots (Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas) and George (Russell, the Williams driver who is part of Mercedes' programme). One of them may decide he doesn't want to go racing anymore and suddenly you have a vacant spot."

"This is why I don't want to come out in June and say, 'No chance, Sebastian is not racing for us'.

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"I wouldn't do it to him as a driver, to be that blunt, and on the otherwise side, I've seen black swans appearing when nobody suspected - remember Nico Rosberg.

"In that respect, we're just keeping our options open but of course concentrating our discussions with our current drivers."

Meanwhile Wolff said he intended to stay with the Mercedes team as currently organised following reports linking him with a buyout involving Aston Martin -- a company in which he is a shareholder.

“With regards to my future, I have bought a few shares in Aston Martin as a financial investment...(but) my executive functions are unchanged at Mercedes,” he said.

“I am team principal and a shareholder. It's clear when there are no other headlines the Aston Martin thing caused some waves. I'm planning with Mercedes and have the best intentions to stay here and that is unchanged.”

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