As he ponders Mercedes choices for its second seat, Toto Wolff says that in an ideal world, he would prefer that Pascal Wehrlein continue his development in a mid-field team next season.

The 22-year-old who raced for Manor this season appears as Mercedes most reasonable option to partner Lewis Hamilton in 2017, given the unavailability of F1’s top name drivers.

“If I had my Christmas wish, it would be for a year or two in a midfield team for him,” Wolff said.

“But I have to find a good compromise Christmas list instead, and perhaps, as Nico has taken a courageous decision, we must take a courageous decision as well.”

The fact that Wehrlein was snubbed by Force India in favour of fellow Mercedes protégé Esteban  Ocon,  was perceived initially, including by Wehrlein himself, as a setback.

But in the end, it may have  been a blessing in disguise for the young German driver if Mercedes give him the drive.

His recruitment would also validate the manufacturer’s young driver programme while the refusal to promote him could on the contrary undermine it.

Wolff also insisted that Mercedes was determined to respect the contractual arrangements of the drivers it has been looking at, although negotiations are always possible.

“We respect the contracts that the drivers have with other teams. We would not want our drivers to just jump when the next opportunity comes along. For that situation the contracts are there, and we respect that.

“Of course it is possible to find an amicable solution with another team and another driver where there is an agreement on both sides. I would not rule it out.”

Could Wolff have been thinking of Williams and Valtteri Bottas? Wait and see…

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