Toto Wolff says Mercedes “cannot ignore” the development of Sebastian Vettel’s exit from Ferrari at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season.

Ferrari announced on Tuesday morning that Vettel would be leaving the team upon the expiry of his current contract at the end of the year, after talks over a new deal broke down between both parties.

Vettel’s exit is set to have a domino effect on the 2021 driver market as Ferrari looks for a successor, and the ramifications are likely to affect Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas out of contract at the end of 2020.

Wolff stressed the team remains committed to its current drivers but admitted he will be keeping an eye on any developments.

“Sebastian is a great driver, a great personality and an enrichment for every Formula 1 team,” said Wolff, as quoted by German media outlet dpa.

“With a view to the future, we are primarily committed to loyalty to our current Mercedes drivers, but of course we cannot ignore this development.”

Hamilton has been linked with a sensational switch to Ferrari in the past but he has repeatedly signalled his intention to remain at Mercedes in recent months.

But the news of Vettel’s departure might impact negotiations for Hamilton, should he suddenly change his stance, and for Bottas, who is understood to be among the drivers Ferrari is considering - although McLaren’s Carlos Sainz has emerged as the leading candidate for the seat

A Hamilton-Vettel line up would be appealing for Mercedes in many ways, though the financial implications and potential intra-team rivalry that fielding two multiple world champions would cause is likely to be a deterrent.

If Vettel does choose to continue in F1, a move to either McLaren or Renault is believed to be more realistic, with Red Bull all but ruling out a revival of the partnership that claimed four successive world championships between 2010 and 2013.

In any event that either Hamilton or Bottas leaves, that would place current Williams driver George Russell in the frame for a Mercedes seat in 2021 given he is its leading junior.

 

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