Both Mercedes drivers are currently on a one-year contract, so the question is what will happen to the driver lineup of the world champions for 2022 and whether any changes can be expected there. Will Lewis Hamilton continue his F1 career after this season? Will Valtteri Bottas drive well enough for Mercedes to want to keep him? Is Max Verstappen the first target of Mercedes for the upcoming season? Toto Wolff spoke about his team's plans during the presentation of the W12 car.
The priority is certainly to continue working with Hamilton. “Max is certainly an exceptional young driver who will be on everyone’s radar in the future, but we won’t flirt with drivers from the outside until we reach an agreement with our two drivers."
"We have a certain symbiosis in our relationship and mutual understanding about what we want to do in the future, and that will be the case in future conversations with Lewis. ” “We agreed that we want to continue negotiations much earlier this year, to avoid the situation we had in 2020 when we got into an awkward position and ran out of time before the start of next season."
"That's why we signed only a one-year contract, which allows us to talk more about the future in racing and out of racing. And with enough time. We will not wait for the end of the season again ", says Wolff.
Wolf on Hamilton
Mercedes has a string of seven constructor titles in a row.
The last four were secured by Hamilton and Bottas, with a fairly stable situation in the team, so there is no particular reason for changes in the driver lineup. “If Lewis wants to keep racing, I think we’re going to want to do it together, and with Valtteri, we know exactly what we’re getting and we appreciate that,” the Mercedes team boss said.
“At the same time, the environment is changing with new cars, new rules and we have to move in the right direction. That means we'll talk to two of our drivers first, and then see where that takes us. ” The signing of a one-year contract between Mercedes and Hamilton has sparked numerous stories of the eventual departure of the seven-time Formula One world champion.
Wolff rejects the claim that Lewis is no longer so much up to Formula 1 and racing. "I do not doubt his commitment. First of all, he enjoys racing. We enjoy working with each other and we talked about it a lot. He is right when he says that times change."
"New priorities have emerged for all of us in terms of living and health, and he is also very passionate about his initiatives, against racism and inequality. ”