When questioned about when Mercedes plans to make a final call over its second F1 seat for next year ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix, Wolff replied saying it would be “somewhere in the winter”.

Wolff added “it is highly possible because we have always been committed and loyal to the drivers. And this is what we're doing.”

But the Austrian has since admitted his comments were actually a joke, with the hope that his response would prevent repeated questions about what Mercedes plans to do with no drivers currently contracted for next season.

“Yes, it was a wind up," Wolff said. "Because you get asked this question so, so often.”

While seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is widely expected to continue with Mercedes for at least one more year, there is uncertainty over Valtteri Bottas’ future in the team.

The Finn has endured a difficult start to the 2021 amid intensifying speculation that Mercedes protege George Russell is poised to replace as Hamilton’s teammate next year.

Wolff suggested that any driver combination could still be on the cards for 2022 and stressed he wanted to give both Bottas and Russell more time before making a final call.

“[They are] two drivers that still can have a great career in Formula 1,” Wolff said.

“I want to just see Valtteri's full potential this year, and continue to observe George in driving for Williams and handling this situation.”

After a dire performance last time out in Baku, Bottas appeared to return to form at Paul Ricard by qualifying third on the grid behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Hamilton, putting him in contention for his first win of 2021.

And Wolff insisted that Bottas remains in control of his destiny, despite claims in recent media reports that Mercedes is preparing to announce a 2022 promotion for Russell as early as next month’s British Grand Prix.

“I’m very happy - I think he's in a good head space,” he added. “We had a good discussion last week and he knows that it's all in his hand.

“And that's good news because he's in control of his destiny and it's only about driving this car fast.”