F1 2020: Wolff expects Hamilton to stay on and has his own successor in mind

Toto Wolff still expects Lewis Hamilton to sign a new deal with Mercedes despite the runaway Formula One championship leader saying there is “no guarantee” he will stay on.

Hamilton led a Silver Arrows one-two in an action-packed Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Sunday.

Mercedes were able to celebrate an unprecedented seventh consecutive constructors’ title at the iconic Italian circuit, with Hamilton on the brink of being crowned champion for a record-equalling seventh time.

The Briton is in the final year of his contract and declared after the race: “I would like to be here next year, but there’s no guarantee There’s a lot that excites me in the after-life.”

Yet Mercedes team principal Wolff said there is no need to read too much into Hamilton’s comments.

“I think it’s the moment. It’s the emotions. We are all happy, but very tired also. And it’s the same for me,” he said.

“I completely relate to his feeling that you question yourself, that you think about all the other things that matter – and when you switch on the news in the morning and switch them off in the evening, it’s all about the struggles that we all face.

“We are here now in our little happy place where we try to bring some entertainment into households, but then you’re back in the more difficult reality next day – and all of that is something that affects us.

“And in that respect, it’s normal for somebody who’s empathetic to have these feelings.

Wolff added: “Like Niki Lauda, in the ’70s, you could wake up one morning and say, ‘I’m just not having fun anymore’ and that can happen to anybody.

“But we want to continue this journey. We are not finished. Lewis and I and all the team – we are not finished.”

Wolff’s role has also been the subject of speculation and the Austrian revealed back in August he was in a “moment of reflection” over his future.

The 48-year-old revealed at Imola that he already knows who he would like to replace him, but said he is not planning to step aside just yet.

“I believe everybody has a certain shelf life in a role,” said Wolff. “I haven’t come to the end of mine, I think I can still contribute, but I need to think about the future also, going forward, and bringing somebody up, developing him doing this role, is a fantastic challenge for me, that will be one of the next chapters. But you will see me around for a while.

“I guess my situation is a little bit different because I’m a co-owner of the team with Mercedes-Benz, so I’m never going to abandon it because it’s just what I love to do. What’s better than to be part of a sports team, to be part of such a fantastic gang of people?”

Asked if he has an idea of who he would want to take his role, Wolff replied: “I have – but I can’t tell you who.”

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