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Mercedes must consider Vettel when deciding 2021 line-up: Toto Wolff

Formula One champions Mercedes must consider Sebastian Vettel's situation when deciding next year's line-up, team boss Toto Wolff said yesterday.

Ferrari announced earlier that the four-time world champion would be leaving Maranello when his contract runs out at the end of the season.

"Sebastian is a great driver, a major personality and an asset to any Formula One team," said Wolff, in quotes provided by Mercedes.

Wolff is negotiating with six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton over a new deal.

"When looking to the future, our first loyalty lies with the current Mercedes drivers but naturally we must take this development into consideration," Wolff added.

Hamilton and Finland's Valtteri Bottas are out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the season and Wolff's comments will be noted by both.

Hamilton, 35, has been linked to Ferrari in media speculation, but the Briton has indicated he plans to stay with the team that have won the last six drivers' and constructors' titles.

The mere fact Vettel is available could give Mercedes some useful ammunition when it comes to negotiating salaries at least.

Bottas finished runner-up last year and has been a solid teammate for Hamilton, who has enjoyed an easy relationship with the 30-year-old.

That has been a complete contrast to Hamilton's near-feud with Nico Rosberg, his former German teammate who retired after winning the 2016 title.

Hamilton himself replaced seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who won five of his titles with Ferrari, in the Mercedes line-up in 2013.

Mercedes also have Williams driver George Russell, the 2018 Formula Two champion, on a long-term contract as another contender. - REUTERS