Mercedes plan August decision over Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon
Toto Wolff to use summer break to consider 2020 driver options - but says it's not just about next year; Bottas or Ocon set to partner Hamilton
By James Galloway at Hockenheim
Last Updated: 26/07/19 5:25pm
Mercedes will take a decision on Valtteri Bottas' future in August.
However, Toto Wolff insists 2020 alone will not shape their driver deliberations, with longer-term plans and the future of Esteban Ocon to also be factored in.
Bottas was handed a 'one plus one' deal this time last year, meaning he was only secure for 2019 with Mercedes retaining an option on his services for next season.
The Finn has made his best start to an F1 season, claiming four poles and two wins, and is Lewis Hamilton's only realistic title challenger heading into the second half of the season, 39 points adrift of his team-mate.
"We want to end the season before the shutdown in a good place and put in two solid performances in Hockenheim and Budapest and then spend some time thinking about driver line-up for 2020 and beyond," said Wolff, Mercedes' team principal, at Hockenheim.
Wolff added: "For us it's not only about making the right decision for next year, it's about looking ahead. And this is why we agreed that we will take the decision in August going forwards.
"But that doesn't necessarily mean we will announce it in August."
Interest from rivals in Bottas
But Wolff also stressed that the decision on the 29-year-old Finn's future is not theirs alone.
"It's not a decision on Valtteri but it's also a decision Valtteri needs to take," Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
"One must not forget that he's performing strong and there's interest in the market for him also, so it's for all of us to come together for a good solution. And looking ahead also, it's not only for 2020."
Who's contracted to when at the front of the grid?
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton - 2020||Valtteri Bottas - 2019|
|Ferrari||Sebastian Vettel - 2020||Charles Leclerc - Undisclosed|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen - 2020||Pierre Gasly - Undisclosed|
|McLaren||Carlos Sainz - 2020||Lando Norris - 2020|
|Renault||Daniel Ricciardo - 2020||Nico Hulkenberg - 2019|
What will Mercedes do with Ocon?
In addition to five-time champion Hamilton, whose contract runs to the end of 2020, and now-established race winner Bottas, Mercedes' impressive driver books are boosted by current reserve Ocon and George Russell, racing for Williams.
Ocon was unfortunate to miss out on a race seat for this year as Mercedes retained Bottas and doors unexpectedly closed elsewhere, but both the 22-year-old Frenchman and his Brackley bosses are determined to get him back on the grid in 2020.
"Esteban deserves to be in a car and he would deserve to be in a Mercedes in the same way Valtteri deserves to be in a Mercedes," said Wolff to Sky F1.
"I have no doubt that he will be in Formula 1 next year. Again, we just need to pre-empt not one year, but a few years ahead."
Wolff added: "Whatever decision we take is going to be very difficult and probably very unfair for whoever misses out."
In addition to Bottas' Mercedes seat, Ocon has been linked with Renault and Haas.
"There is interest for Esteban among other teams," confirmed Wolff in the Friday press conference.
"We need to carefully make a decision for ourselves and with the other interested parties, not only for our own benefit but also for Esteban's benefit.
"And it if would mean that we are taking a decision in favour of Valtteri, it clearly also means that somebody else would continue to develop him [Ocon] and would mean that we would lose our hand for a year or two or more on Esteban. These are the consequences of that decision."
Sky Sports F1's German GP schedule
Saturday, July 27
10.45am: German GP Practice Three build-up
11am: German GP Practice Three
1pm: German GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: GERMAN GP QUALIFYING (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4.30pm: The F1 Show (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
7.30pm: IndyCar Mid-Ohio Qualifying
Sunday, July 28
11.20am: Porsche Supercup
12.30pm: German GP: Pit Lane Live (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
1.30pm: German GP: On The Grid (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2.10pm: THE GERMAN GRAND PRIX LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: German GP Paddock Live (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
5pm: German GP: The Notebook (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
5.30pm: German GP Highlights (Simulcast on Sky One)
6.30pm: German GP Race Replay
8.30pm: IndyCar Mid-Ohio Race
Watch the German GP live only on Sky Sports this weekend. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live