Mercedes is considering a link-up with a smaller Formula 1 team after being impressed by the approach taken by Ferrari via its relationships with Haas and Sauber, according to team boss Toto Wolff.

Ferrari has worked closely with Haas a technical partner since the American team’s F1 debut in 2016, and will enjoyed an expanded relationship with Sauber from this season onwards.

Sauber will race in 2018 with title sponsorship from Ferrari's sister brand, Alfa Romeo, as well as fielding one of its junior drivers, Charles Leclerc, in a race seat.

Speaking to ESPN, Wolff acknowledged the strength and appeal of a tie-up with another F1 team, and confirmed that early discussions were taking place.

“I think what Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio [Arrivabene] are doing is very clever,” Wolff said.

”They've had a good relationship with Haas. That has helped Haas and helped Ferrari and what they are doing now with Sauber is very visionary.

“With Fred [Vasseur, Sauber boss] he has a team principal on the other side who knows the business inside out, and it can be an alliance that can be dangerous for us.

“It's something that we are considering. It's not easy because you don't want to distract your own organisation with a collaboration with another team on the other side.

“We are not the only ones who are having intelligent ideas. We are having discussions but nothing is done yet.”

Mercedes currently has three junior drivers on its books, with Esteban Ocon being its leading youngster, racing for the Force India team which enjoys an engine supply from the German manufacturer.

Pascal Wehrlein is facing a stint outside of F1 after losing his seat at Sauber, partly thanks to the Ferrari deal, while GP3 champion George Russell (pictured above) impressed in his first three F1 run-outs through 2017.



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