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Other SportsJapanese Grand Prix: Wolff refuses to rule out Mercedes move for Vettel

Japanese Grand Prix: Wolff refuses to rule out Mercedes move for Vettel

Toto Wolff says Sebastian Vettel is “someone you can never discount” as Mercedes continue to ponder their options on how to replace Lewis Hamilton next season.

Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari has created a vacancy at the German team with Vettel emerging this week as one of the leading candidates having hinted at a return to Formula One following his retirement in 2022.

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Asked about the four-time world champion ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes team principal Wolff said: “Sebastian is someone you can never discount. His track record is phenomenal, and sometimes maybe taking a break is also good to evaluate what’s important for you and re-find your motivation.

“We haven’t taken the decision yet and it’s not something we plan to do in the next few weeks. The driver market is very dynamic and some of the really good guys are about to sign for the other teams and we want to continue to have these discussions.

“We have the options open, but it’s much too early to commit to a driver either very young or experienced, don’t want to say old, but the next few months will give us clues.”

One option available to the Three Arrows is giving Vettel, 36, a short-term contract while they develop rising star Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

The Italian, 19 years Vettel’s junior, is currently racing in Formula 2 but has been lined up to drive Mercedes’ 2021 car in a private test later this month.

Wolff insists that is just part of his education and not an indication of him being fast-tracked into F1 next season.

“The programme of Kimi driving F1 has been in place for a long time and hasn’t changed massively over the last few weeks,” Wolff said. 

“What we have done is added more days, but what you will see has been in place whether or not he’s going to sit in an F1 car next year.

“We’ll do a few of these days for him to get comfortable in an F1 car. He’s been our young boy for a long time and we’re keen to see what he can do in an F1 car.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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