F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has played down the prospect of Lewis Hamilton winning 10 F1 world titles, instead talking up the importance of taking one at a time. The Briton already has seven world championship successes under his belt, and will hope to make it eight in 2021 by fending off the challenge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton has signed a new deal with the Silver Arrows which will see him remain with the Brackley-based team until the end of the 2023 season.
Assuming he holds onto his lead over Verstappen to win this season, he could conceivably have secured a 10th world title by the time his current deal comes to an end.
But when that fact was pointed out to Wolff in a recent interview, the Austrian was quick to remind us all a lot can happen in two and a half seasons, and that focus must be on the here and now.
Asked by Gazzetta dello Sport if double figures is possible, Wolff said: “First you have to win the eighth and the ninth. It’s not obvious.
“Now we have to focus on the second half of the season and beat Red Bull.”
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Just one more title would mean Hamilton would hold the outright record for the most championship victories in the sport.
He is currently level with Michael Schumacher with seven successes, while Juan Manuel Fangio is nearest to them with his five world titles.
If the Briton does go on to reach new heights in the sport, Wolff has admitted he may not be there to witness it in person.
As a shareholder the Austrian has said he will always be involved with the team, but has expressed a desire to pass on the team principal role to someone else.
He said: “As a shareholder I will always remain part of the team and I will always want to have the best management.
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“If one day I feel that my contribution is no longer up to par, I will decide with the other shareholders my successor.
“It is evident that I will not live this life forever – in the office from Monday to Friday and then on the track on 23 of the 52 weekends. I’ve been doing it for nine years.”
Before then, he has a big decision to make about the future of the team.
While Hamilton is staying for 2022 and the following year, there is no such guarantee about Valtteri Bottas, who could be replaced by Williams ace George Russell for next season.
No decision has been made on that front yet, but Wolff has confirmed the team “will decide very quickly”.
It doesn’t necessarily mean we will know about it any time soon, though, as the Austrian added: “The announcement [the timing of it] will depend on the circumstances.”
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