Toto Wolff hasn’t ruled out the potential of signing a driver from outside the Mercedes fold for the 2019 Formula 1 season which could step up rumours around a move for Daniel Ricciardo.

The Mercedes team principal opted to clarify his recent comments to the media, which he feels were mistranslated, having been reported as confirming its 2019 F1 drivers would be picked from within the Mercedes roster.

Wolff says its priority remains with its current Mercedes drivers but is still open to bringing in someone from outside its current roster with specific reference to Red Bull’s Ricciardo who is out of contract at the end of this year and is assessing his options for a future F1 title-fighting package.

“It was not entirely correct as a translation, I said that we would be very loyal to the group of drivers that are associated to Mercedes, our current Mercedes drivers and the kindergarten, in assessing next year,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “But of course you have to assess other drivers and Daniel is definitely one of the ones we’d be considering and looking at.

“Loyalty goes first and then we would be looking over the fence.”

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While F1 continues to wait for the expected new contract confirmation between Mercedes and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton, rumoured to be up to a three-year deal worth £120m, the future of Valtteri Bottas at the German manufacturer still seems uncertain for 2019.

The Finn has impressed Wolff so far in 2018, feeling both he and Hamilton are on equal footing this season, but isn’t set to get his future confirmed in the coming weeks.

“I think it is pretty even between the two and Valtteri is giving Lewis a run for his money but that is good for us,” he said. “He could have won two Grand Prix this season and he is good here again this Friday [in Spain] so he looks like a more than solid pair of hands.”

After topping FP1 at Circuit de Catalunya, Bottas faded to fifth in the afternoon practice session almost four-tenths of a second off of teammate Hamilton at the top of the times after making a mistake during his qualifying simulation.

 

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