Toto Wolff is absolutely confident that Lewis Hamilton will remain with Mercedes in the future, but insisted he would hold no grudge against the Briton should he consider at some point a move away from the team.
A dismal 2022 season followed by a poor start to 2023 have left Mercedes in a state of flux and its star driver significantly frustrated.
The team's low-key performance in Bahrain and Wolff's astonishing admission that the concept of Mercedes' car was fundamentally flawed have certainly dimmed Hamilton's prospects of winning a record eighth world title in F1, especially in light of archrival Red Bull's continued strength.
In Jeddah, Hamilton reiterated his commitment to Mercedes and rejected the idea of moving away from the team when his current contract with the Brackley squad expires at the end of this year.
"I still have 100 per cent belief in this team," he said. "It is my family and I’ve been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else."
But if Hamilton's frustration grows into a sense of dissatisfaction or failure, the Briton could have a change of heart, and one that Wolff would personally understand if Mercedes is unable to leave its current "valley of tears".
"I don't think that Lewis will leave Mercedes," said Wolff.
"He’s at the stage of a career where we trust each other, we have formed the great bond among each other and we have no reason to doubt each other, even though this is a difficult spell.
"But so nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances.
"As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship, he needs to make sure that he has the car.
"If we cannot demonstrate that we're able to give him a car in the next couple of years, then he needs to look elsewhere.
"I don't think he's doing it at that stage, but I will have no grudge if that happens in a year or two."
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