Mercedes finds itself in the unusual situation of not being the fastest car on the grid. That is not all that the team has to worry about though, with all three of its contracted drivers out of contract by the end of the current season.

Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly the biggest fish of the lot. The seven-time world champion has made it no secret that he has varied interests. His future in the sport always leads to plenty of speculation and he is yet to commit fully towards staying in the sport for a period of time.

When he signed a one-year contract extension just weeks ahead of the ongoing campaign, it was a move that surprised many. People speculated that this could perhaps be the last year we see Hamilton in the sport.

On his part, the Stevenage-born driver has stayed quite silent and not really divulged much.

It has not stopped others from speculating, though. McLaren boss Zak Brown had recently suggested that a “dream line-up” for Mercedes starting next season would be of Max Verstappen and George Russell.

However, Toto Wolff does not agree with this assessment one bit.

“I’m hearing this for the first time. But the condition of my pilots is the least of my worries. 

“But, I can imagine that because the competition between the two is very strong. The big ones feel when a good guy is coming. And George is the next generation.”

Wolff believes both Christian Horner and Brown are alike in the way that they spread information.

“Brown is like Christian Horner. They just spread sh*t. I think Zak wanted to give Christian one with it. I don’t care.”

Mercedes was lucky to see Hamilton triumph in the opening race in Bahrain. Pre-season has been far from smooth for the Silver Arrows, and Red Bull is still believed to be faster than the W12.

The team will be tasked with repeating its success at the Imola Grand Prix. The fact that this race comes after a three-week gap also means that they would have got some time to address critical deficiencies.

It is also no secret that Mercedes may struggle at this track given its specifications. It may well be far more prudent to be pragmatic in their approach and concede defeat while just looking to ensure some crucial points.

Read more: “Without Michael, I might never have made it”: Schumacher admits to getting help from family

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