Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is adamant there will be no repeat this year of the "uncomfortable" situation he found himself in with Lewis Hamilton when it came to discussing his latest contract.
For one reason or another throughout 2020, Wolff and Hamilton were unable to find time to negotiate terms on a new deal that led to the clock running out and the seven-time champion only putting pen to paper on a one-year agreement.
Whilst the ball is in Hamilton's court as to whether he wants to continue beyond this season, Wolff is at least determined to ensure that if the 36-year-old is willing to do so, then an extension is sorted sooner rather than later.
“We have agreed that we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year to avoid a situation like we had in 2020 where we ran out of time and were in the uncomfortable position that there was just no time left before the beginning of the season," said Wolff.
“That is also why we did a one-year contract in order to allow us to discuss the future, in racing and outside of racing, longer and with the right amount of time.”
Wolff goes into the season in the unusual situation that all of the team's drivers are out of contract at the end of the year.
Along with Hamilton, Bottas' deal will again be up for renewal as he is on a rolling one-year agreement, while Mercedes junior George Russell's three-year tenure with Williams is up.
Even Esteban Ocon, who is managed by Mercedes, will be available as his two-year contract with Renault/Alpine expires.
Asked whether he found himself in a dangerous situation with Hamilton and Bottas, in particular, only having one-year deals going forwards, Wolff initially joked: “Well it is never both [seats] because I can always jump in and drive the cars so it is just one cockpit that remains free."
On a more serious note, Wolff added: “As a matter of fact, I think if Lewis continues to race we will want to do this together and we will discuss that shortly. With Valtteri, we
know exactly what we have and we appreciate this.
“At the same time, the landscape changes with new cars, new regulations and we have got to take the right decision for the team going forward.
"But that also means we will have the discussions with our two drivers first and then we will see where that goes.”
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