Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s fight over the next few years may not only be for race wins and World titles, but also a Mercedes race-seat in 2019.
Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes announced that Rosberg had signed a new two-year deal that would keep him at Brackley until the end of 2018.
That means both the German and Hamilton’s contracts expires at the same time.
And although motorsport boss Toto Wolff concedes that it is a strange move, he reckons it could also prove to be an interesting one.
“That was my first thought – it’s better that they’re not in sync,” he told Sky F1. “But then I found out that maybe it’s an interesting option, maybe they’ll have more momentum in the last year.”
However, come the end of 2018, one or even both drivers could find themselves surplus to requirements.
Not only will there be a new crop of young drivers with some experience under their belts, but the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo will also be out of contract.
Wolff added: “It’s an interesting time because there’s a new generation coming up which is difficult to judge.
“[Esteban] Ocon, [Pascal] Wehrlein, [Stoffel] Vandoorne – all these guys and then there are some contracts running out: Vettel, Ricciardo. It leaves a lot of options.”
But given the success of his driver partnership, which has finished 1-2 in the championship for the past two year and are on course to do that again this season, Wolff admits Mercedes could keep them both on in 2019.
“If it continues in our team as it is now I see no reason to change,” he said. “But it’s better to have options than not.”