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Wolff: Mercedes need two number-one drivers

21 Apr 2015

Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff has insisted that drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will retain equal status within the team, dismissing speculation that delays in finalising a new contract with Hamilton are down to the world champion demanding top billing.

"We need two number-one drivers to push the team and the performance of the car,” Wolff told Formula1.com after seeing Mercedes’ dominance challenged by Ferrari in 2015’s opening races. “I have no doubt that [a number-one and number-two] is not a situation we will end up in with Nico and Lewis."

While Rosberg signed a multi-year contract extension with Mercedes last July, Hamilton and the team agreed to postpone talks over a new deal until the 2014 championship fight was concluded.

At last month’s Malaysian Grand Prix Hamilton hinted that negotiations were all but complete. However, the subsequent lack of an announcement has prompted plenty of media guesswork as to the demands the British driver might be making.

"That is all rumours - it is not true,” said Wolff of suggestions that he might be pushing for number-one status, adding that their contract talks - which Hamilton is conducting personally - are now in their final stages.

"It is down to the details - I would say that we are beyond the point of the critical topics. And believe me, [Lewis] is [negotiating] very well. The level that he does it is quite surprising considering the fact that he has not done it in the past.”

For his part, Rosberg has already stated he has no concerns over Hamilton asking for preferential treatment in any new contract, intimating that a clause in his own deal prevents such an arrangement.

“That will not happen,” he said over the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. “In my contract it is written that the team follows a philosophy of two completely equal drivers."

Interest in Hamilton’s future is only likely to intensify further until an official announcement is made, especially with the news that the resurgent Ferrari team are yet to take up an option to retain Kimi Raikkonen’s services for the 2016 season.