Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he’s “totally relaxed” about the increasing speculation between Lewis Hamilton and a potential move to Ferrari in 2021.

Reports have emerged that the newly-crowned six-time Formula 1 world champion has held talks with Ferrari chairman John Elkann as he weighs up his future with his current Mercedes contract expiring at the end of the 2020 season.

Hamilton has previously spoken about an interest of driving for Ferrari before underlining his happiness within the Mercedes fold having secured five F1 titles with the German manufacturer while its engines powered his first F1 world championship triumph with McLaren back in 2008.

Speculation ramped up when Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed the Italian manufacturer would be interested in signing Hamilton earlier this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

“Lewis is certainly an outstanding driver, a fantastic driver,” Binotto said. “Knowing that he’s available in 2021 can make us only happy.”

Wolff, who was sitting alongside Binotto when he spoke about Hamilton and 2021, is relaxed about the situation and feels “everything points to our relationship to continue”, hinting that the reigning world champion will want to stay in the fastest car.

“I actually sat next to Mattia when he said that in a press conference, and he was asked a question about what he thought of Lewis and he said that he has the highest esteem for Lewis,” Wolff said. “You can also bet that if his chairman is meeting with him, he is not going to talk badly about Lewis either. So I am totally relaxed about the situation.

“We need to push very hard to provide the drivers with the quickest possible car, and if we are able to do this, I am 100 percent convinced we will have the best possible driver line up in the car. Everything points to our relationship to continue.

“But in life you never know and therefore, as I said before, I am very open about this. I have started to embrace the fact that everybody has objectives and needs to have the best possible opportunities for his career.

“This is a free world and I recognise that everybody needs to explore career options and make the best decision for themselves. And this is for drivers and everybody else included.

“So I have zero problems and racing drivers are always going to try to be in the quickest possible car, and the quickest team is always going to try to have the best racing driver in there. There is a good consensus between us of what we are trying to achieve.”

Responding to Binotto’s comments, Hamilton smiled and felt “that’s the first compliment I’ve had from Ferrari in 13 years” having been a rival to Ferrari throughout his F1 career.

With Hamilton turning 35 before the start of the 2020 F1 season, his next contract is anticipated to be his last as a driver in the sport but he has played down any speculation on turning his attention to 2021 and beyond.

“It has been a long, long time and [Ferrari are] a team that I’ve always appreciated over the years, so to earn their respect from someone [Binotto] from there who’s obviously very high up is obviously not a bad thing,” Hamilton said.

“I think they’ve got two great drivers as is so who knows what the driver market’s going to be doing over the next year.

“But if I’m really honest, I’m not really focused on that right this second: trying to make sure I finish off strong. I’ve got this incredible group of people who hire me where I am and I feel like I just continue to owe it to them to give my heart to them and my energy 100 per cent to them, particularly as I’m still in contract and negotiations haven’t started yet.

“I honestly don’t know how the next phase of the months is going to go when it comes to contract. It’s very odd that you have to do it almost a year before it ends and it can’t be done towards the end but that’s just the way it goes but we shall see.”

Only Sergio Perez at Racing Point and Esteban Ocon at Renault have signed contracts beyond the end of the 2020 season.

 

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