While the 2021 entry list is essentially done and dusted, leaving only the race schedule yet to be agreed, fact is there is still one glaring ‘vacancy’ on the grid, that of the lead Mercedes.
Though most take Lewis Hamilton agreeing a new deal for granted, others believe the ongoing failure to sign on the dotted line indicates a problem, a feeling that has generated some of the sillier clickbait headlines at a time genuine news is hard to come by.
Having previously said that the new deal might not be agreed until the eve of pre-season testing – whenever that might be – Toto Wolff insists that he is “not worried” by his failure to get the seven-time world champion to commit.
“It doesn’t worry me at all, because I will always respect Lewis’s decisions,” Wolff tells Autosport.
“Whether this is staying with us for a long time, or whether that means leaving the sport and pursuing different interests. I think we need to be ready for all kinds of curve balls being thrown at us,” he admits.
“But at the same time, we talk a lot, and we are very transparent with each other. I think there is more to achieve together.”
Last month, the German team took to social media to allay fans fears, insisting that a deal would be announced “soon”.
“I plan to be here,” they quoted Hamilton as saying. “I want to be here. I think we as a team have more to do together and more to achieve, both in the sport but even more outside of it.”
Wolff also took the opportunity to wade into the debate over whether George Russell‘s performance in Sakhir has genuinely cast doubt on the whole ‘is it the car or the driver’ debate which some have used in discussions over whether the seven-time champion is the sport’s greatest of all time.
“It’s not one dimensional,” said the Austrian. “Formula 1 has always been about best man in best machine wins.
“The best men means the quickest driver, and the most intelligent driver,” he continued. “He is the one that understands how the dynamics in a team works, its technical ability, and on the other side seeing himself in the right context within the organisation and not like a solar system where everything revolves around the sun.
“Equally, the organisation around the driver needs to be on its absolute A-game in order to deliver performance in the various areas,” he added. “This means on the engineering side, on the commercial side, on the political side, and on the communication side, in order to keep the wheels rolling.
“This is a business without a silver bullet, contrary to what most people think, even within the industry. It’s a business around marginal gains where everything needs to be in the right place for a team to be successful.”