Mercedes has confirmed that it will make no announcement regarding Nico Rosberg’s replacement for the 2017 Formula 1 season until the new year.
The shock decision freed up a seat at Mercedes for 2017 alongside Hamilton, sparking a late twist in the driver market for next season.
Pascal Wehrlein and Valtteri Bottas are both known to be in contention for the seat, while Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has claimed that over half of the current F1 grid has expressed interest.
However, Mercedes has now confirmed that no announcement will be made this side of new year.
“There will be no announcements from us until next year and nothing is planned for the period between now and our return to work on 3rd January,” a spokesman from Mercedes said.
Mercedes began its search for Rosberg’s replacement three days after his announcement, and reportedly made an approach for Bottas, who is signed to race for Williams in 2017.
BBC Sport reported earlier this week that Mercedes offered Williams a discount on its engines for 2017, as well as the services of junior driver Wehrlein, only to be knocked back.
Mercedes had also been linked with high-profile drivers Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso for 2017, but both have re-affirmed their commitment to their existing teams in recent weeks.
Three-time world champion Hamilton has insisted that he is not looking for number one status within Mercedes for 2017, simply wishing for equal rights alongside his new teammate, whoever it may be.
The Briton recently met with Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff to discuss plans for 2017, most likely including the subject of driver options, and called the discussions “amazing”.
Mercedes’ first on-track commitments in 2017 will be pre-season testing in Barcelona, Spain, which is due to begin on February 27.