Who will be sitting next to Lewis Hamilton in 2020? A year ago Mercedes announced Valtteri Bottas’s new contract at the Hockenheimring. Not this year.
By sheer coincidence, this is also the exact same time frame when Max Verstappen’s future will be decided. ABMS and F1 Insider know:
If he isn’t in second place after the Hungarian GP, he can get out of his Red Bull contract, that ends in 2020.
We can therefore only conclude that Mercedes have put their eyes on the fast Dutchman. Also, Wolff’s own words fit neatly into this narrative referring to a Mercedes own future beyond 2020.
Toto Wolff: “Announcing the drivers in July would be very early. We have seen in the past that this happens in some teams only in winter. For us, it’s not just about 2020, but it’s also about the time beyond.”
Regarding his qualities, Wolff commented:” We live in an exciting era. We have the stars like Lewis and Sebastian and the new drivers like Max, who have already shown their championship qualities but haven’t had the right car yet. To see how these young drivers challenge the old guard of established stars is exciting.”
Test driver Esteban Ocon also plays a role in Mercedes considerations. Wolff:
“We have to make the best decision for ourselves, but also for all other participants. Esteban always gives important input using the simulator and working in the background. He has shown in the past that he can drive fast. When we make a decision for Valtteri and Esteban, we have to be aware of the consequences that someone else could support them. In the process, we lose their valuable input.”
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.