Lewis Hamilton's future is very much up in the air, despite Mercedes being confident that a new deal will be penned in the near future.
The Brit will be heading into the 2018 season with Mercedes as champion, having lifted the Formula 1 trophy in 2017, finishing ahead of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, and teammate Valtteri Bottas.
It will be Hamilton’s sixth season with the team, but he has just 12 months remaining on his current contract.
Team principal Toto Wolff is nonetheless confident that Mercedes will secure the services of Hamilton for the foreseeable future.
However, teammate Bottas, also with one year remaining on his deal, could make way for a new driver, and Wolff hinted that it could come in the form of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
"In so far as I would like the pairing to continue, we are committed to both of them in 2018 but having said that 2019 is a very exciting new year,” Wolff told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"There are young drivers that will have gained more experience and some of the very good ones like Daniel [Ricciardo) become free."
The Australian is currently engaged in contract talks of his own with Red Bull, but having won only five of his 129 races to date, it is widely believed that Ricciardo is a better driver than his record suggests.
He could, therefore, be lured elsewhere if he isn’t satisfied that his Red Bull car is competitive enough going into the 2018 season.
But, Wolff will be concerned about disrupting the current equilibrium of a winning team.
‘’If you would have asked me the question one year ago, I would have said having Lewis and Nico, two drivers who have a strong rivalry and are pushing each other and making the car faster," Wolff said.
"But we have realised that the positive dynamics we had between Valtteri and Lewis in a difficult season like we had in 2017, was an asset.”
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