Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that he was forced to self-isolate for 10 days in Austria after testing positive for coronavirus earlier this month.
“We planned to stay for some days in Kitzbühel, then out of nowhere I had a positive COVID test. So we quarantined ourselves for 10 days here,” Wolff said in an interview with an Austrian broadcaster.
“Thankfully we didn’t exhibit any symptoms, because it can also go badly, but we are now out of quarantine,” he added.
The Austrian is now out of quarantine and is making preparations for the 2021 F1 season, which is set to get underway in Bahrain in late March.
Despite the season-opener being fewer than 10 weeks away, Sir Lewis Hamilton is yet to sign a contract with the Mercedes F1 Team for 2021 – and speculation about his future with the Silver Arrows has been mounting in recent weeks.
F1 pundit and former car designer Gary Anderson recently called on Hamilton to be “realistic” amid reports that he is demanding a pay rise and a multi-year extension, while Mercedes reportedly only want to offer him a single-year deal.
“The belief within the Mercedes team will be that Hamilton will stay on but the debate seems to be over the length of the deal,” Anderson said.
“So it’s about how long he wants to commit for – and for how much – rather than whether he is willing to.
“But he also has to be realistic because everything is suffering financially in the world given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even with the rule changes and the cost cap, teams are struggling to pull in the necessary money and with Mercedes cutting back on its wider workforce and these challenges he does need to buy into that situation and look at the bigger picture than just what he’s earning,” he added.
Continuing, Anderson said it is in all parties’ interests for Hamilton to stay with the Silver Arrows, as his departure would be a “big loss”, though it wouldn’t necessarily stop them from continuing to dominate the sport.
“But it’s in the interests of the three parties that own the team – Mercedes, Ineos and Toto Wolff – to find a solution and get Hamilton’s name on a contract.
“It will be interesting to see if it doesn’t happen. If Hamilton decides he’s bigger than the wider picture of the financial challenges then he could end up walking away.
“But this doesn’t make that much difference to the job the team is doing.
“Hamilton is a great driver and not having him would be a big loss, but they just have to keep doing what they are doing and rely on Russell and Valtteri Bottas to do the job,” Anderson added.