Toto Wolff insists he harbours “no doubts” about Sir Lewis Hamilton’s F1 commitment even though the World Champion has signed for only one more Mercedes season.
Hamilton revealed this week he is happy to take things a year at a time for now, saying he sees “no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future”.
That could be construed as the seven-time World Champion thinking seriously about whether to retire from the sport at the end of 2021, especially if he was to claim a record-breaking eighth title.
But Wolff, his Mercedes team boss, is not concerned that matters outside of F1 and the life Hamilton will carve out for himself after his career has ended are distracting his driver from the job in hand – maintaining the dominance they have enjoyed for at least one more year.
“No, no doubt about his commitment,” said the Mercedes F1 co-owner and team principal, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“First of all, he enjoys racing a lot. We enjoy working with each other and we discussed that a lot, but he’s absolutely right. Times change.
“[There are] new priorities for all of us in terms of the way we live our health. He’s very passionate about his initiatives against racism and inequality.
“I think it’s fair enough for a driver that has won seven Championships to give himself the flexibility in his mind to decide what he wants to do in the future. Whether this is racing or outside of the circus.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 5, 2021
Wolff also said he was keen to avert a repeat of the scenario that unfolded in 2020 and into 2021 whereby no new deal had been agreed with Hamilton until pre-season testing was only a matter of weeks away.
“We have agreed we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year, to avoid a situation like we had in 2020, to run out of time and be in the uncomfortable position that there is no time left before the beginning of the season,” added the Austrian.
“And that’s also why we only did a one-year contract, in order to allow us to discuss the future in racing and outside of racing longer and with the right amount of time.
“As a matter of fact, I think if Lewis continues to race, we will want to do this together. And we will discuss it shortly.
“At the same time, the landscape changes with new cars, new regulations and we’ve got to take the right decision for the team going forward.
“That also means we will have the discussions with our drivers first and then we will see where that goes.”