• Mercedes

Changing driver line-up would disrupt success - Wolff

ESPN Staff
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his priority is to keep Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the team beyond the end of next year for fear of a different driver disrupting success.

Rosberg signed a new multi-year deal this season to stay beyond 2015 but Hamilton's contract expires at the end of next year. The team has agreed to postpone negotiations with Hamilton until after the current title campaign so as not to distract him, but the delay has fuelled speculation Fernando Alonso could replace him in 2016.

Alonso will leave Ferrari at the end of this year following five years without title success and is believed to be weighing up a return to McLaren against a sabbatical in 2015. If Alonso is free in 2016 then Mercedes would, in theory, be an option, but despite a deteriorating relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg this year, Wolff believes changing his driver line-up would unsettle the team more.

"We have a contract with both of our drivers for 2015," he said. "We want to continue with the current line-up because these two boys are part of the success of the team because they know each other so well and because they respect each other.

"I think if you get somebody else in that fight it could be detrimental to the team's performance. Our main priority is to continue with Lewis and Nico beyond 2015."

Earlier this year, chairman of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche said Alonso was "maybe the best driver in F1", but Wolff insists there is no pressure from above to consider him for a drive.

"There is no such pressure. One of the reasons we have moved and progressed forwards is because we are Mercedes-Benz and we have this huge mothership in the background helping us, but also leaving us to do the business and take the decisions we believe are the right ones for this tiny little unit for Mercedes.

"We can call on their opinions when we think it's important and of course Dieter Zetsche and the board are always aware of the decision making, but, no, there is no pressure."

As for negotiations with Hamilton, Wolff said they would continue after the final race in Abu Dhabi and the team has not entertained any other options so far.

"We have agreed with Lewis that we want to concentrate on the championship and leave him so that he has exactly the same possibility as Nico not to get involved in commercial and financial and legal decisions until after Abu Dhabi. My commitment to him is that we are not going to talk to anybody about any terms or contracts until then."

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