Mercedes seat intrigue to continue for now
"They can put any driver they want"
F1 will head into the Christmas and New Year’s break without announcing the identity of Mercedes’ second driver for 2017.
Earlier, the reigning world champions said they wanted to decide Nico Rosberg’s successor within 2016, but a spokesman told us that there are "no announcements" planned until at least the end of the forthcoming break on January 3.
However, that doesn’t mean there is no intrigue ahead of the last fortnight of the year.
Moves are still afoot to get the Toto Wolff-contracted Valtteri Bottas out of his Williams contract.
The key to that deal, according to France’s L’Equipe, could be Felipe Massa, whose retirement could be one of the shortest-lived in F1 history.
Williams deputy Claire Williams told the BBC: "We would only allow Valtteri to leave if an experienced, credible alternative was available, such as Felipe Massa."
L’Equipe added that the negotiations with Bottas and Massa are at an "advanced" stage.
If it is ultimately 27-year-old Finn Bottas rather than a big name like Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso who gets the nod, that could be a relief for Hamilton.
The Briton revealed to Channel 4 television that Mercedes must "contractually" at least discuss their "shortlist" with him.
"They can put any driver they want — bring Sebastian, Fernando, bring whoever you want.
"But in terms of what is best for the team, probably not the best idea," said Hamilton, referring to some teammate relationships in the past that were "poisonous".
"So for sure that’s really important," Hamilton added, "because I’m really happy here.
"There have been some interesting scenarios (with Rosberg), so we have to make sure that whatever we bring is at least as good as what we had, if not better, in terms of creating that energy."