Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has spoken out about the rumours surrounding his team and the contract of Lewis Hamilton, indicating neither matter has given him much cause for concern.
The futures of Hamilton and the team he drives for have been hot topics on the F1 news-wire in recent weeks, but Wolff suggests there is little to get worked-up about.
“Mercedes will definitely race in 2021. We want to stay with it. Formula 1 makes sense for us,” he told Auto Motor und Sport, in response to reports that Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler AG, was looking to sell the team in a move to cut costs.
Despite such optimism, the Silver Arrows have yet to put pen-to-paper on a new deal with the FIA and Formula One Management, a move Wolff explains as getting the maximum leverage in negotiations for the next Concorde agreement, which must work for all teams.
“The general conditions must be right. Formula 1 must work as such. We want to have a Concorde agreement that we can live with. That doesn’t mean that we always want to get more out of Mercedes. It has to be a well-balanced contract, for us and for the smaller teams as well,” the Austrian explained.
“The goal must be that all teams make a profit.”
On the subject of his star driver Hamilton, Wolff revealed that contract negotiations are yet to begin in earnest, but he is hopeful a deal can be made early in the season.
“The last time [Lewis and I] met was at the Christmas party. We chatted a bit about the future. Since then we have only talked on WhatsApp. When you’ve been on your toes for ten months, it’s important to take a break. That’s why we decided to leave ourselves alone in December and January. When it starts again in February, we will sit down and discuss.”
However, Wolff concedes the negotiations won’t be easy.
“As a driver at his level, Lewis always has options. The same applies to us. As long as we build a fast car, we’ll always be in a situation where we can pick the drivers.”
With Hamilton reportedly asking for a four-to-five year contract valued at approximately $66 million a year, there has been speculation the six-time world champion might be pricing himself out of the Silver Arrow’s range, but Wolff maintains that team and driver are meant to be together.
“Lewis wants to drive the fastest car and we want the best driver,” he said.