Toto Wolff believes there is a 75 percent chance that Lewis Hamilton will continue with Mercedes in Formula 1 beyond the end of his existing contract amid speculation of a switch to Ferrari.

Six-time world champion Hamilton has one season remaining on his contract with Mercedes, and is gearing up to open negotiations with the team in the coming months.

But speculation arose over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend that Hamilton had met with Ferrari president John Elkann, leading to suggestions he may consider a switch to Maranello for 2021.

Hamilton remained coy when asked if he had met with Elkann, saying that “everything that happens behind closed doors is obviously always private with whoever it is you end up sitting with”.

Mercedes F1 chief Wolff has been clear in his desire to continue the team’s relationship with Hamilton, which has yielded five drivers’ titles for the Briton in the last six years.

Asked to rate the chances of Hamilton staying with the team, Wolff said: “I would rate it personally - and I’m leaning myself out of the window here - I would rate it at 75 percent.

“I give you the number because I think from the rational, everything speaks for a continuation of the relationship from both sides.

“But equally, there is a 25 percent chance that we are not in control of. So we’ll see how the next months pan out.”

Wolff added: “We’ve talked very openly about Ferrari, and what the brand represents. But for me, I think as long as we are able to produce a quick car and a powerful engine, we will always have an opportunity to decide who drives the car.

“I think no doubt, Lewis’s priority will be to try and make it work with the team, and I will try to make it work with Lewis.

“But the most important is that we have a good car, then we are able to decide for ourselves.

“I think for a driver the priority will always be to be in the quickest possible car, and in a team where he can achieve his objectives.

“There will be components such as financial incentives that will play a role, that at the end becomes a total package that the driver will evaluate. That is completely normal, like all of us would do.”

Wolff said that not set date had been agreed to sit down with Hamilton to open negotiations for 2021 and beyond.

“We haven’t given ourselves a date, and I think the most important is not to dash off,” Wolff said.

“I’m really looking forward to being back in the office and having a normal day and night rhythm, and when we come back at the end of January, February, define a schedule on when we want to discuss it.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

 

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