Toto Wolff insisted he never sought to look for driver options – namely Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen – during the period of contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes and Hamilton finally announced that they will continue their partnership until the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season, following months of speculations about the seven-time F1 Champion’s future in the sport.
Hamilton has won six of his seven F1 Titles with Mercedes, but following two tough seasons for the eight-time Constructors’ Champions, 2022 and 2023, where the seem to have got their sums wrong with the new ground effect aero rule, many though Hamilton would be discouraged to continue racing.
However, both parties insisted the relationship would continue and indeed the extension was announce ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Wolff spoke to Sky Sports F1 about Hamilton’s new contract, and when asked if he entertained the idea of approaching Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc, he responded: “No.
“I’ve always said that when we renew, I don’t want to flirt outside if I have a good relationship, and only when I see that things are not going in the right direction then I would test the market, but I didn’t do it,” he explained.
Two years is the best in the foreseeable future
Hamilton signed a new two-year deal with the team, and when asked why only two years, Wolff said: “I think it comes from, in a way both sides in this day and age, things change.
“This is a dynamic environment. Signing a five-year contract means that you need to discuss is there any escape clause in case we are not providing him with a car that is performing.
“So we didn’t entertain that. We said the foreseeable future is two years and that’s what we are committing to each other,” the Austrian insisted.
It might have been a wise decision to extend Hamilton’s deal until the end of the 2025 F1 season, which will see him racing at the age of 40, and while the Briton has shown that he haven’t lost any of his speed or race craft, the end of his latest deal with Mercedes might be a good time for some reflection on whether he wants to continue racing.