Mercedes F1 duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are both out of contract at the end of the 2018 season. However, it is almost a foregone conclusion that Hamilton will pen a contract extension in the near future.
Mercedes are gunning for another top driver to join their ranks alongside Hamilton. This will be critical for them to secure a one-two finish in 2019 and seal a constructors title.
One potential candidate is Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, and the Australian has teased a potential switch.
However, Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff has said that he will back both Hamilton and Bottas. But the Austrian will be reviewing their performance and keeping his options open.
“We are not looking at drivers outside of Mercedes at the moment because, first of all, we need to give our support to our two guys, that’s the priority,” Wolff said.
“Give us a few more races, [let us] start the European season properly, go to Canada, and then the intense July, and I will have a better view.
“It’s like if you’re happy with your wife, you don’t look elsewhere!
“We are with our two wives – or three [including Esteban Ocon] – and we are not looking at that.”
There are chances that Mercedes junior drivers Esteban Ocon or George Russell could get the call up if Bottas’ contract is not renewed.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Wolff said.
“We are very satisfied with how Valtteri has been going these days and Lewis we don’t need to talk about – he’s the best of the current drivers in my opinion.
“And then you have these kids growing up like Ocon and George.
“I am optimistic about the future Mercedes line-up.”
Hamilton took top honours after Bottas suffered a late heartbreak in the form of a puncture. But Hamilton is confident that his Mercedes F1 team-mate will win a new deal following his impressive start.
“I think more so than ever he’s earned his place here,” Hamilton said.
“And I think the team should be really happy with him.
“I know how difficult it is when you have days like that when you think you’re going to win and then it gets taken away, I’ve had that before.
“So just out of respect I thought I’d try and lift him up a little bit.”