Mercedes is not looking at rival teams’ Formula 1 drivers for 2019 despite having no drivers signed beyond this season, according to team boss Toto Wolff. 

Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton is expected to agree to a new deal with Mercedes, though the reigning world champions have admitted negotiations have been delayed due to the team’s difficult start to 2018.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas, who suffered a dramatic race-ending puncture while leading with three laps to go in Baku, is also out of contract at the end of the season having signed a one-year extension last year. 

Daniel Ricciardo could be available at the end of the campaign with the Australian keeping his options aiming as he looks to place himself in championship-winning contention, though Wolff insists Mercedes is not considering the Red Bull driver. 

"We are not looking at drivers outside of Mercedes at the moment because, first of all, we need to give our support to our two guys, that's the priority,” Wolff said. 

“It's like if you're happy with your wife, you don't look elsewhere! We are with our two wives -- or three [including Ocon] -- and we are not looking at that.

"Give us a few more races, [let us] start the European season properly, go to Canada, and then the intense July, and I will have a better view.”

For the short-term at least, Wolff says the team is only looking at drivers currently contracted to Mercedes, including Hamilton, Bottas and Force India’s Esteban Ocon

"It's a good problem to have. We are very satisfied with how Valtteri has been going these days and Lewis we don't need to talk about -- he's the best of the current drivers in my opinion and then you have these kids growing up like Ocon and George. I am optimistic about the future Mercedes line-up.”

Hamilton, who revealed he had delayed his appearance on the Baku podium to console Bottas, reckons the Finn has done more than enough to justify his place within the team. 

“Look what’s he is doing, he is driving exceptionally well,” Hamilton told Channel 4. “I think you’ve got to give him a lot of credit. Coming into a new team, as my teammate, it’s not easy and this year he has rose to the challenge. 

“I think he’s doing a solid job, more than the team would need. I think more so than ever he’s earned his place here. And I think the team should be really happy with him.”

 

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