Wolff thinks ’tired’ Hamilton will stay in F1
"We are all happy but very tired and it is the same for me"
Toto Wolff remains confident that Lewis Hamilton will eventually sign a new Mercedes contract for 2021 and beyond.
After winning at Imola, and celebrating Mercedes’ seventh consecutive world championship, Hamilton caused a stir by saying there is "no guarantee" he will stay in Formula 1 beyond next month’s Abu Dhabi finale.
The six-time world champion’s comments came immediately after Wolff told a television reporter that he is likely stepping down as team boss.
"I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year so that’s not really a concern for me at the moment," Hamilton, 35, said.
While Hamilton dithered over his own contract negotiations, Wolff has been saying for months that he is in talks with Daimler about re-thinking his role at the team.
"We are all happy but very tired and it is the same for me," Austrian Wolff said on Sunday.
"I relate to Lewis’ feeling that you question yourself and that you think about all the other things that matter. But we want to continue this journey. We are not finished," he insisted.
Wolff, 48, has hinted at a new Niki Lauda-style overseeing role with a title such as CEO or chairman, while suggesting he is zeroing in on who will replace him as team boss.
"I don’t know who would replace him (Wolff) but he’s a leader, he’s not going to put anyone that’s not going to be able to do the job," Hamilton said on Sunday.
Some believe that amid talk of driver salary caps and the corona economic crisis, Hamilton is simply locked in difficult talks over his pay for 2021 and beyond.
Indeed, the Briton continually indicates that he wants to keep racing.
"You know, you mentioned about Toto and shelf-life so there’s multiple things that stay on the top of my mind but I would like to be here next year," said Hamilton. "But there’s no guarantee of that, for sure.
"There’s a lot that excites me of the after-life so time will tell."
If Mercedes and Hamilton are unable to agree terms, the already active 2021 driver ’silly season’ would go into overdrive.
"I don’t think it will happen but it would mean a frantic driver market out there," Wolff admitted.
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