Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Mercedes to 'think about' approach for Sebastian Vettel, contract talks with Lewis Hamilton on hold until F1 season starts

The driver market received an early shake up last month with the surprise news that the German would leave Ferrari

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said the Formula One team could consider an approach for Sebastian Vettel as the German approaches the end of his time at Ferrari.

The driver market received an early shake up last month with the surprise news that Vettel would leave Ferrari, who snapped up Carlos Sainz as his replacement while Daniel Ricciardo agreed a deal to join McLaren from Renault.

The options open to Vettel now appear limited, but Wolff was adamant that Mercedes could be considered one of them.

“It’s not lip service,” said Wolff, who pointed to the abrupt retirement of Nico Rosberg in 2016 as the sort of thing that can alter plans overnight. “We owe it to a four-time world champion not to come out and say straightaway ‘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 and George [Russell, the Williams driver who is part of Mercedes’ programme].”

Speculation continues to surround the future of Mercedes' lead driver, the six-time and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton, who is yet to agree a new contract with the team.

With the delayed season due to begin in Austria in July, Wolff said he hoped to have an agreement in place “pretty soon” with Hamilton.

Hamilton, 35, is widely expected to agree fresh terms, but Wolff said no discussions have taken place during the sport’s enforced shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We didn’t see each other over lockdown, we were in different parts of the world but in regular contact,” said Wolff, who has supported Hamilton’s stance in calling out a lack of diversity within Formula One following the death of George Floyd in the United States.

“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.

“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.”

Updated: June 4, 2020 10:57 AM

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