Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will NOT be racing together for Mercedes next year after Valtteri Bottas agreed a deal in principle to stay with the reigning F1 champions. Hamilton and Vettel had been tipped to link up at Mercedes after Ferrari announced they would not be retaining the German’s services beyond this season.
Team principal Toto Wolff insisted that while Hamilton, Bottas, George Russell and Esteban Ocon were ahead of Vettel in the queue for a seat at Mercedes, he could not rule out signing the four-time champion.
Vettel had been tipped to replace Bottas, who has been Hamilton’s team-mate since Nico Rosberg quit Mercedes off the back of his 2016 title win, to form a dream team with the Brit.
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However, Motorsport.com report the 33-year-old has been left out in the cold after Bottas agreed a new contract with the Silver Arrows, who are racing in a new-look all-black livery this year.
It is claimed the Finn and Mercedes have finalised fresh terms for their partnership to continue for at least another year.
And all that needs to be done is for Wolff and Bottas – who currently leads the World Drivers’ Championship standings – to sign on the dotted line.
Wolff and co. are now set to turn their attention to keeping hold of Hamilton who, like Bottas and Vettel, is due to be out of contract when the 2020 F1 season ends.
Wolff has, though, remained adamant he ‘trusts’ Hamilton will stick with Mercedes and that it’s only a matter of time before a new deal is announced.
The Austrian, who has helped Hamilton win five of his six F1 titles, is not willing to provide round-the-clock updates on the negotiating process.
“You know that always when I tell you about timings, I keep hearing every single week ‘why isn’t it done? Why isn’t it signed?'” said Wolff, when asked about talks with Hamilton and Bottas at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
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“And that’s why this year around, I wouldn’t want to live comment about the status of our negotiations or discussions. They’re happening. I don’t know when we’re going to announce.”
Mercedes’ decision to stick with Hamilton and Bottas, which CEO Ola Kallenius gave his blessing to earlier this month, means Vettel is highly unlikely to have a seat in F1 next season.
Red Bull team principal Toto Wolff ruled out signing Vettel on Friday, while Renault and McLaren’s driver line-ups are settled for 2021.
Racing Point are, meanwhile, poised to stick with Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll when they rebrand as Aston Martin next year.
Seats at AlphaTauri, Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo might be available for 2021 but they are all unappealing drives for a racer of Vettel’s stature.
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