Vettel And Alonso And Wolff In F1

Vettel And Alonso And Wolff In F1

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso could be fighting to replace Daniel Ricciardo at Renault in 2020.

Then again . . .

Vettel could also be going to Mercedes-Benz and team boss Toto Wolff is not exactly denying it.

Wolff has maintained a low profile in recent months despite all manner of rumours about the future of the Mercedes F1 team and his role with the organisation.

As the F1 world begins to wind up towards its first race on July 5, Wolff has finally emerged to tell the world what is actually happening.

One subject that has been much discussed is whether Vettel could join Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows squad in 2021, following his ousting from Ferrari in a burst of early-season driver moves for next year.

Wolff hints that it’s too early yet to consider 2021, given there has been no racing in 2020.

“We want to take our time. We were quite surprised with the early movements because you need to start the season with a driver that you know you’re not going to lose,” Wolff says.

“It’s very tricky to develop a car without having that driver be part of it, and every single driver needs to be a team player as well, and that becomes second priority in my opinion for the relevant guy.

“Our priority lies on the Mercedes drivers, Valtteri [Bottas] and Lewis and then obviously we’re looking at George [Russell) and the Williams situation with interest. Beyond that you do not discount any driver.

“This is why I said I don’t want to discount Sebastian as a four-time world champion, because who knows what happens in the next months?

“I think we owe it to a four-times World Champion not to come out and say straight away ‘No.’ You need to think about it.

“On the other side, we have a fantastic line-up, and I’m happy with both our pilots, and George. But you never know. One of them may decide that he doesn’t want to go racing any more, and suddenly you have a vacant spot. And this is why I don’t want to come out in June and say, ‘No chance, Sebastian is not racing for us.’

“First of all, I wouldn’t do that to him as a driver, to be that blunt, and on the other side I’ve seen black swans appearing when nobody expected them. Remember Nico Rosberg. In that respect we’re just keeping our options open, but of course concentrating our discussions with our current drivers.”

Wolff says that he and Hamilton haven’t even started discussing contracts.

“We were in different parts of the world but in regular contact. We didn’t work on any agreement between us, but there is a lot of trust. We’ve been together for a long time and never in this time did we have to take the contract out and actually read what was written because it comes so naturally.

“Once racing resumes we will spend some time together, take the contract out of the cupboard, look at the timings, the numbers, the rights, and hopefully have something pretty soon.”

That could also mean a resolution on the Alonso situation, as he is still sitting outside Formula One but obviously keen to resume racing – perhaps with the Renault team where he won his two world championships.

For Wolff, there is also the question of his own future. He is a former shareholder at the deeply troubled Williams team and is also a shareholder at Mercedes F1, although Ola Kallenius is the head of Mercedes-Benz these days and the ultimate authority for the three-pointed star.

“I need to question myself,” Wolff admits.

“I don’t want to be a team principal that goes from great to good without realising that he’s maybe not adding as much anymore to the team as he did in the beginning. I still feel that I can add a lot, but of course I’m contemplating about my future.

“I’m in discussion with Ola [Kallenius] about how that goes. It is not a simple employment contract, but it involves a shareholding. But we’re in the midst of the process in carving our joint future, and therefore I don’t want to stick to some particular wording, whether that’s team principal or managing director.

“And, to be honest with you, I haven’t taken any decision yet, because we haven’t even started racing. So all these agreements and discussions are happening as we speak.”