Toto Wolff: Vettel would be a good marketing story for Mercedes but...
Silver Arrows boss says they prefer to focus on their development programme
They say that when one door closes, another opens. But, for Ferrari's out-going driver Sebastian Vettel, his list of options is looking increasingly thin.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Sunday that Vettel, who announced last week that he would be leaving Ferrari, is not high on their agenda.
Instead of the 32-year-old German, Mercedes are looking at 22-year-old Briton George Russell, who rose through the ranks with the Silver Arrows and is now with Williams.
"Of course, a German driver in a German car is a good marketing story," said Wolff, whose drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are both out of contract at the end of the season.
"For us, the question is what to do about George Russell. That's one option. Then there is also the Sebastian Vettel option.
"But that is not first on our agenda, because we have to concentrate on our own driver programme."
Last week, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also confirmed that it is "enormously unlikely" that Vettel could return to the Britain-based team, with whom he won all four of his world titles from 2010 to 2013.
Horner said he does not see any change to their line-up next year, as they have long-term plans for Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon.
"I think it's enormously unlikely," Horner said on Sky Sports News, when asked about the possibility of Vettel returning.
"Experience shows that two alpha males, it doesn't tend to pan out well. Sebastian is still a very competitive grand prix driver."
AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost, who worked with Vettel when the Italian outfit were known as Toro Rosso, also believes that Vettel still has it in him to win championships.
Tost told Formula1.com: "He needs to get a seat in the first three teams (Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull). Then he has a real chance to win races and another championship. I know Sebastian quite well, and that is for sure his main target."
But, with seats at all the top three teams looking unlikely next year, it seems Renault is the only option left for him.
Their top driver Daniel Ricciardo will be joining McLaren to replace Carlos Sainz, who will be taking Vettel's seat at Ferrari.
Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko believes Vettel could call it quits.
He told ORF: "For him, it's unfortunate that all the positions in the top teams have been filled.
"If there's no future that he can ride somewhere at the top in the medium term, then he'll quit. Within two years, he should be able to win races, because he doesn't want to ride in the middle."