Toto Wolff has insisted Mercedes won’t ‘flirt’ with other F1 drivers over driving for the team in 2022 despite current drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas being out of contract at the end of the year.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen is an obvious replacement for Hamilton but Wolff was quick to play down any suggestions that Mercedes would seek talks with any other drivers until it was clear what would be happening with its current pairing.

Speaking after the launch of the W12, Wolff said: “As a matter of fact, I think if Lewis continues to race we will want to do this together and we will discuss that shortly. And with Valtteri, we know exactly what we have, and we appreciate this. At the same time the landscape changes, with new cars, with new regulations, and we’ve got to take the right decision for the team going forward, but that also means we will have the discussions with our two drivers first – and then we will see how that goes.

“The relation, the symbiosis we have, is always that we have a mutual understanding of what we want to do in the future, and that will be also the case in the discussions with Lewis going forward. Max is certainly an outstanding young driver that will be on everybody’s radar in the future, but as I said before we are not flirting outside before we have a clear understanding of… with our two drivers.”

Hamilton didn’t sign his new one-year deal with Mercedes until last month and Wolff is keen on ensuring this scenario doesn't happen again.

“We have agreed that we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year to avoid the situation like we had in 2020, to run out of time and be in the how can I say… uncomfortable position that there is no time left before the beginning of the season, and that’s also why we only did a one-year contract in order to allow us to discuss the future, in racing and outside of racing, longer and with the right amount of time,” Wolff added.