Lewis Hamilton wants Toto Wolff to stay at Mercedes – but said the Austrian’s possible departure will have no impact on his own Formula One future.
Hamilton will start Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix in prime position to extend his 30-point title lead after putting his Mercedes on pole.
The six-time world champion edged out team-mate Valtteri Bottas by just 0.059 seconds at Barcelona’s sun-drenched Circuit de Catalunya, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third, seven tenths back.
Hamilton enjoys a strong relationship with Wolff, 48, and has said previously that his future hinges on the movements of the Mercedes team principal. The British driver’s £40million-a-year contract is up for renewal in just five months and he is due to sit down with Wolff to work on a new deal.
“What you have to remember is it is a team game, and there are 2,000 people at Mercedes,” said Hamilton. “It is not down to one individual so (Wolff’s future) doesn’t determine whether I stay.
“Everyone has to do what is best for them, their career and their happiness. It is smart by him because everyone needs to take a moment and evaluate what they do moving forward, whether it suits them, their family, and their future dreams.
“We have done so much together in this period of time. I hope Toto stays because it is fun working with him and fun negotiating with him and fun having the ups and downs, so I am truly grateful to him. But at the same time I will be supportive in whatever he decides to do.”
Should Wolff leave, he will do so as one of the most successful team principals in the sport’s long history.
Hamilton has won five of his six world championships under Wolff’s reign and remains in a strong position to equal Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven titles despite Mercedes’ tyre struggles at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix last weekend.
Verstappen ended Mercedes’ winning streak with victory at Silverstone and the 32 degree heat in northern Spain will provide him with some hope that he could challenge again on Sunday.
The harder tyres brought to the sixth round by Pirelli should help the Mercedes cause but Hamilton admitted: “It is definitely not going to be easy for us.
“We have these hot conditions, but we have a harder compound. Fingers crossed that helps but I wouldn’t put it past us having problems.”
On the subject of problems, Hamilton’s former championship rival Sebastian Vettel endured yet another Saturday to forget.
The four-time world champion, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, failed to progress to Q3 for the second week in a row and for the third time this year.
He will line up in 11th, two spots behind Charles Leclerc. Vettel is a lowly 13th in the standings, nine places and 35 points adrift of his Ferrari team-mate.
“I’m trying to do everything I can, and ignore all the things that might not be right,” said a gloomy Vettel. “That’s all I can do at the moment.”
The Racing Point cars of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll will start fourth and fifth respectively ahead of Red Bull’s Alexander Albon. British driver Lando Norris lines up in eighth, one spot behind McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz.