Toto Wolff plays down suggestion that Mercedes would consider changing drivers
"I don’t think we are ever going to get there," team boss stresses
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 19/09/14 11:00am
Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff has clarified comments made about potential changes to the team's driver line-up following Spa.
Toto Wolff has clarified comments made in an interview ahead of the Italian GP in which he said that Mercedes would consider breaking up their driver pairing should Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fail to resolve their differences on track.
Speaking during the team bosses’ press conference at Monza on Friday, Wolff stressed that standing down one or other of their drivers in the event of a repeat of their Belgian GP collision represents very much a worst-case scenario and is highly unlikely to happen.
“This was exactly the context: what would happen if we are not able to get on top of the situation. And obviously at that stage, we’re very happy with the line-up of the two drivers and we’ve always said that,” he said.
“We trust them and we had a very good discussion with the two of them, a very clear discussion, and we’ve always said that this shouldn’t happen. At that stage of the season, maybe it was important to re-emphasise that.
“My statements were about what would happen if we couldn’t get on top of it. This is something that is very much a worst-case vision and I don’t think we are ever going to get there.”
The drivers could opt to leave, of course, but Hamilton insisted on Thursday that he was still happy at Mercedes - although reports have claimed that talks to extend his current contract, which expires at the end of next season, have been put on hold.
"Well, I haven't said that I was freezing anything," he said. "We're constantly talking with the team - but I think at the moment the priority is to win the championship.
"I still have a contract for a whole other year on top of this one, so there is no rush. But I do want to say that I see my future with Mercedes. I'm really happy there, so..."
Mercedes brought Hamilton and Rosberg together last week in an attempt to try and diffuse the situation. But while Wolff is confident his drivers won’t repeat their Spa coming together, that doesn’t mean rivals necessarily agree.
Red Bull were the biggest gainers two weeks ago after Daniel Ricciardo claimed his third win in six races – and on a track where they had expected to struggle.
They’re anticipating a difficult weekend at Monza as well, although Team Principal Christian Horner didn't miss the opportunity to voice what most people seem to be thinking ahead of Sunday’s race.
With Sebastian Vettel P7 on Friday afternoon and Ricciardo tenth fastest, Horner said: “Hopefully we can put in a good performance tomorrow, get as high up the grid as we can and have a grandstand seat to see what happens between the Mercedes boys at Turn 1.”