Toto Wolff insists that he would hold no grudge against Lewis Hamilton if the seven-time World Champion opted to depart the team for a rival.
Mercedes endured a difficult 2022 campaign, with Hamilton having the first win-less campaign of his career.
Several question marks have been raised over his future at the team, with his contract expiring at the end of the 2023 season.
Mercedes’ form this year also appears to be off the front-running pace, with Hamilton already conceding that any recovery the team makes will likely be too late for a title challenge.
Although Hamilton says that he is not seeking to join forces with another F1 team, Wolff says he would have no issue if he wanted to.
“I don’t think that Lewis will leave Mercedes,” Wolff said.
“He’s at the stage of a career where we trust each other, we have formed the great bond among each other.
“We have no reason to doubt each other, even though this is a difficult spell. But so nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears, and come back to solid performances.
“As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship, he needs to make sure that he has the car.
“And if we cannot demonstrate that we’re able to give him a car in the next couple of years, then he needs to look everywhere.
“I don’t think he’s doing it at that stage, but I will have no grudge if that happens in a year or two.”
After the season-opening race in Bahrain, Hamilton stated that Mercedes didn’t listen to him regarding his concerns over the W14 car while it was in production.
The 38-year-old acknowledged in Jeddah that it was a poor choice of words, with Wolff moving to downplay the severity of his comments.
“We speak all the time, but it’s not a single word that matters in the team because we know each other so well.
“We know there are emotions at play with him, with me, with many others in the team and that we wear our hearts on our sleeves.
“Sometimes you say things that in the media being very quickly translated in a controversial way or polarising, which, inside of the team, never cause any waves because we know that the emotions can run high.
“And to be honest, if I’m watching a lap time deficit, a coming together or a race that doesn’t go well, I’d also like to say that I’m not happy where the team, where the car has been developed to.
“But that’s OK inside of the team, we want the emotion high and we have tough love, we are saying it straight out when it’s missing and nobody’s ever going to… not take it on the chin in the team.”
Keyword: Wolff: No grudge if Hamilton leaves Mercedes for F1 rival