Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he will not begin to approach other top drivers for 2021 until he knows Lewis Hamilton’s future plans.

Speculation linking Lewis Hamilton with a switch to Ferrari for 2021 intensified over the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with reports in Italian media claiming that Hamilton has already held meetings with Ferrari chairman John Elkann.

At the FIA prize giving gala in Paris last week, Hamilton inferred that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was among a number of his rivals to have contacted Mercedes about a potential drive in the future.

With an unpredictable driver market expected for 2021, Wolff insisted Mercedes would not “embark on a fishing mission” to poach other top talent as a potential replacement for Hamilton until the six-time world champion’s plans become clearer.

“I think that the values within the team are loyalty and integrity are absolutely number one on the list,” Wolff said.

“And understanding Lewis’ position and objectives, it will be key for any decision that we take.

“We will not embark on a fishing mission with potential drivers out there before Lewis and us have had that discussion.

“That hasn’t taken place, because we want to wrap up the season, and we will see how that goes. Because we’re having a consensual relationship, we need need both sides to be happy.”

And Wolff, whose own contract with the German manufacturer runs out at the end of 2020, insisted he is in no rush to speed up negotiations with Hamilton over a renewed deal.

“I don’t think there is anything particularly damaging to not come to conclusions quickly,” Wolff stressed.

“I know we want to have the strongest possible line-up, we have 2020, a full year to go. I think the silly season is going to start soon, conversations are going to begin.

“And whether we know our driver line-up in April, July, or October is not important.”

 

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