Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the appeal of a potential move to Formula 1 rival Ferrari was discussed in Lewis Hamilton’s contract negotiations last year.

Hamilton agreed to extend his current Mercedes deal until at least the end of 2020 last season, having joined the German manufacturer from McLaren ahead of the 2013 campaign.

Since moving to Mercedes, Hamilton has gone on to claim a further four drivers’ world championships to add to his solitary title at McLaren from 2008.

“You have to simply acknowledge that probably it’s in every driver’s head to drive at Ferrari one day,” Wolff said.

“It’s the most iconic Formula 1 brand, the most historic Formula 1 brand out there, and I totally respect if a driver has the desire to drive at Ferrari.

“Even within the team, we have discussed it, and with Lewis, we have discussed it, and we have agreed on the topic. We had the discussion when we negotiated the last contract.”

Wolff believes there is little reason to suggest Hamilton would leave the reigning world champions, with the Briton winning more than half of the races he has contested since the start of the V6 hybrid era in 2014.

Hamilton has now joined Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win five or more titles, while Hamilton’s 76th career victory in Barcelona has edged him closer to Schumacher’s all-time win record (91).

“You have to be open-minded and understand that drivers will explore opportunities that exist and benchmark themselves,” Wolff explained.

“And what I’ve seen strong between Lewis and us is that we’ve always been very transparent with each other in those discussions.

“At the moment, everything is great. I think we are providing him with a car that is capable of achieving his objectives.

“If we continue to have a car that is performing on that level, I think there is no reason to go, and we would really love him to stay.

“If one day, ways part, it will be very positive and then each of us will try to achieve success with a different setup. No drama.”

Speaking about the hypothetical scenario of Hamilton moving to Ferrari, Wolff said he could “absolutely” see Sebastian Vettel at Mercedes in the future, saying: “Why not?”

“I think you need to consider that there are probably six or seven drivers out there that have the skill and the intelligence to deserve to be in a race and championship-winning car,” he added.

“Two of them are with us, and I hope it goes forever, and then there are a few others that we really enjoy watching and we enjoy watching them perform, and Sebastian is definitely one of them.”

Hamilton was coy when asked about the subject but said “you always have to drop in the Ferrari name” during contract negotiations.



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