Wolff: Mercedes struggles delaying Hamilton contract talks

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
© XPB 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted for the first time that the rough start to the 2018 world championship campaign has impacted the team's contract negotiation talks with Lewis Hamilton.

The driver finally ended his six-race winless streak by taking victory in last weekend's race in Baku.

However it came at the expense of his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who was in the lead when he suffered a catastrophic blow-out after cutting a tyre on debris.

The win put Hamilton back on top of the drivers championship by four points from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

But Mercedes itself is still playing second fiddle to Ferrari in the constructors standings. That emphasises how the team's former dominance has evaporated this season, leaving a much more level playing field.

Wolff said that the team was hard at work addressing the situation - and it was this reason why there had been no time to carry on contract talks with Hamilton.

“We haven’t talked for a few days or weeks because it was so intense in getting our act together with the team," he said. "All our priority has been concentrated on that."

Both Wolff and Hamilton have consistently said that extending the driver's tenure at Brackley beyond 2018 is a mere formality, and that both parties are committed to agreeing a deal.

“We are very well aligned in what we expect from each other in the future," Wolff stressed. "It’s just finding the time to sit down.”

And there was no hint that Hamilton might be looking at options outside Formula 1 if he's no longer assured of being at the wheel of the sport's best car.

“I’m fully committed to Mercedes," Hamilton insisted last week. "I have every plan to be with the team for the future.

“It’s not a rushed thing. I’ve made it very, very clear and they made it very clear that they want to continue, so it’s quite an easy thing."

However Daniel Ricciardo has been increasingly linked with a move away from Red Bull when his current contract expires at the end of the season.

A seat at Mercedes or Ferrari could be just the sort of thing to tempt the Australian to greener pastures.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter