Date published: December 3 2019
Already linked to a move on Max Verstappen, Toto Wolff says Mercedes won’t launch a “fishing mission” until Lewis Hamilton has made his decision about 2021.
Hamilton is reportedly considering a move to Ferrari in two years’ time with the six-time World Champion having met with Ferrari president John Elkann twice this season.
While Wolff says it is only natural for a driver to consider his options, the Mercedes motorsport boss won’t play his own cards until he knows Hamilton’s plans.
“I think that the values within the team are that loyalty and integrity are absolutely number one on the list,” the Austria told Motorsport.com.
“Understanding Lewis’ position and objectives will be key for any decision that we take.
“So we will not embark on a fishing mission with potential drivers out there before Lewis and us have had this discussion.
“And that hasn’t taken place because we wanted to wrap up the season, and then we’ll see how that goes.
“And because we’re having a consensual relationship, we need both sides to be happy.”
With Red Bull determined to hold onto Verstappen and Ferrari have a long-term deal with Charles Leclerc, two of F1’s biggest new stars, Mercedes could miss out on a big name signing should Hamilton opt to switch teams.
Wolff, though, insists he’s in no rush to make any decision.
“I don’t think it is particularly damaging not to come to conclusions quickly,” he said.
“I know that we want to have the strongest possible line-up in 2021 and there’s a full year to go.
“I think the silly season is going to start soon and conversations are going to begin. And whether we know our driver line-up in April, July or October is not important.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Wolff says he believes Mercedes will convince Hamilton to re-sign with the team for 2021 and beyond.
“I would rate it personally – and I’m leaning myself out of the window here – I would rate it at 75 percent,” he told RaceFans.net.
“I give you [that] number because I think from the rational, everything speaks for continuation of the relationship, from both sides.
“But equally, there is a 25 percent chance that we are not in control of. So we’ll see how the next months pan out.”