It is the clearest sign yet that the reigning world champions are already looking firmly into the future, having signed Valtteri Bottas only for 2017 following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement.
Fellow Mercedes chief Niki Lauda this week in fact rejected the Vettel-to-Mercedes talk, insisting “That is not our plan — I must say that quite clearly”.
But very different noises are coming from Wolff’s mouth.
“2018 opens up alternatives that may be interesting but at the moment we do not waste time and will focus instead on bringing Bottas up to speed,” he told Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.
Asked if he was referring to German Vettel, Wolff answered: “I personally have a good relationship with him and he would fit into the team.
“However, Sebastian is someone who is absolutely loyal to his current employer. When Nico retired, he was not one of the interesting applicants for the seat,” he revealed.
“He only said ‘Oh, this is surprising’. He is focusing on Ferrari with everything he has. What the future brings we will see, but it would be negligent to not have Sebastian on the list,” added Wolff.
When told that ‘German quadruple world champion Vettel driving a Mercedes’ seems like a good fit, Wolff agreed: “Sounds good.
“But as good as it sounds, it matters little now. My favourite scenario is that it works out with Valtteri and Lewis,” he said.