Mercedes principal Toto Wolff says “everything is open” in regards to potential new drivers and team line-ups.
When asked by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport if German driver Sebastian Vettel could ever switch from Ferrari, Wolff said: “You are not just a four-time world champion because of a bit of luck.
“Sebastian is still the most important pawn at Ferrari, but you don’t know what he will do next. Everything is still open after 2020.”
Five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has long been linked with a future move to Ferrari and Wolff added: “Hamilton is at ease with us and there is trust from both sides, but we also recognise the myth that Ferrari is. Many riders dream of driving there.”
No for Alonso, maybe for Verstappen
With Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes contract expiring at the end of the season there has also been speculation regarding a new team-mate for Hamilton.
Fernando Alonso has been mentioned as a possibility but Wolff said the Spaniard was not an option. Alonso and Hamilton were formerly team-mates at McLaren.
“Fernando is undoubtedly one of the strongest drivers and after his adventures at Ferrari, he no longer had the opportunity to drive a competitive car,” Wolff added. “Due to a series of circumstances, the top teams already have their ‘alpha’ driver. Sometimes it’s not enough to be good at driving, you also need to have the right circumstances.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has also been tipped as a possible 2021 driver for Mercedes, but Wolff said: “That’s too far away. We are fighting for the 2019 title and planning for 2020.”
Alonso ‘turned down’ Red Bull
Mundo Deportivo reports that Fernando Alonso rejected the chance to replace Pierre Gasly at Red Bull Racing.
The Spanish newspaper said: “And it is not Fernando who approached Red Bull, but it was the team led by Christian Horner who was interested in the driver.”
Gasly has since been demoted back to Toro Rosso with Alexander Albon promoted to drive alongside Max Verstappen for the final nine races of the 2019 season.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said of the driver changes: “I am optimistic that Albon is at the right level. Frankly, it came somewhat unexpectedly that he would perform well in his first year. In addition, he makes convincing strides with every race.
“Since Alex’s contract only covers the last nine races and nothing has been decided yet about who will be Max’s team-mate next year; Alex could race and grow without feeling extra pressure.”