Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has rubbished claims that Valtteri Bottas moving to the German team would constitute a conflict of interest.
The issue was raised by Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda on Servus TV where he questioned whether Wolff could continue to manage Bottas should he move to the 2016 Champions.
Lauda said: “It [the management role had] been set up before Toto became CEO of the race team. If Bottas were to come to us, Wolff cannot be his manager anymore.”
Wolff has since countered this saying he would relinquish his role on Bottas’ management team should the Finn move to Mercedes.
“I’m not an idiot. When I joined Daimler four years ago, I signed a contract, so I can’t manage or have a commercial interest in a Mercedes driver,” Wolff told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It isn’t a problem. The problem does not arise. Whoever is talking about a conflict of interest does not understand F1.”
With no announcement regarding driver line ups for 2017 made by Mercedes yet Wolff insisted no decisions had been made yet.
“We have not yet made the decision because it involves more than just the driver and our team,” he said. “We must have respect for other teams.
“Valtteri is an option but we also know how important he is for Williams. It’s a delicate situation which requires us to move cautiously, so we’ve decided to take our time with it.”