It didn’t take long for any one of the three questions to be raised, and first up was the team itself.
“We are in this for the long-term,” he insisted. “This is what we do, we build race cars and we build road cars. Formula 1 is the halo platform for hybrid engineering, something that is not communicated enough because it was talked down at the beginning of the hybrid era. It’s something we should put more emphasis on.
“We like the platform but at the same time we are in negotiations with the rights holders and things need to be sorted out. But the partnership is something that indicates our wish to continue our successful journey in Formula 1.”
Although he wasn’t taking a full leaf out of Gunther Steiner’s book – with the Haas team principal last year openly stating all teams will at least threaten to walk away in order to strengthen negotiating positions – Wolff quickly made clear that Mercedes is not yet in a position to sign a new commercial contract for 2021 onwards with Liberty Media and the FIA.
“It’s an ongoing process and it’s a complicated set of contracts – a tri-lateral contract between the FIA, the commercial rights holder and all the teams, and the devil lies in the detail. I wouldn’t want to commit to a specific date because there are quite some topics that remain to be agreed on. It’s a work in process and clearly there is the will and the wish of all of the stakeholders to come to a close before we embark on the 2021 season, because that would be an uncomfortable situation.”
As fans grew ever-more impatient on social media that they had to sit through a live stream of a press conference while awaiting a sight of a new livery, the Twitter rage threatened to overshadow some key messages regarding both Hamilton’s future and Wolff’s own, as the Austrian exuded a confidence that both would be sorted positively even if they are in no rush.
But there was a nerve that was pressed at one stage. A recent report suggested Daimler was about to seriously discuss pulling out of F1 at a board meeting, triggering a complex set of moves that could have gone as far as Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin involvement. It seemed fanciful – if not impossible – at first, and even more so after the recent Stroll investment into Aston that will see Racing Point become the Aston Martin F1 team in 2021. But if Daimler was to have such a serious discussion, it is something that Wolff is likely to only be partly privy to at first.