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Lewis Hamilton enjoys ‘amazing’ meeting with Toto Wolff about Mercedes’ F1 2017 plans

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Lewis Hamilton is confident that Mercedes will have the strongest driver partnership in Formula 1 next year after an “amazing” meeting with team boss Toto Wolff on Sunday.

Hamilton missed out on a fourth F1 drivers’ championship in 2016 after falling five points short of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the final standings.

Rosberg announced five days after winning his maiden World Championship that he would be retiring from F1 with immediate effect, freeing up a seat at Mercedes for 2017.

Speculation has been rife about who will be Hamilton’s teammate for 2017, with Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Pascal Wehrlein among the drivers linked to the seat.

Mercedes began its search for Rosberg’s replacement on Monday, with team boss Toto Wolff saying that whoever was hired would be given equal rights to Hamilton for 2017.

Hamilton took to Instagram on Sunday night to address his fans, posting two short videos of him and Wolff to the ‘stories’ section of his account.

“Hi everyone, we’re in Toto’s kitchen. We just had an amazing meeting,” Hamilton said in the first video.

“I just wanted to send you all a message out, let you know that we’re going to be the strongest partnership next year, and we look forward to fighting for this championship again. Hope you’re all well.”

Wolff added in the second video: “Hi everybody. We spent a good couple of hours together, we had a really fantastic meeting.

“We’ll be coming back so strong in 2017.”

Other names linked with the Mercedes drive for 2017 include Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr., with the team set to decide on Rosberg’s replacement before the end of the year.

McLaren F1 drivers and senior management agree to pay cuts

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McLaren Formula One drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris are taking pay cuts, while the team is furloughing other employees as part of protective cost-cutting during the coronavirus pandemic.

With F1 racing suspended, McLaren said both drivers and senior management, including chief executive Zak Brown, all agreed to voluntary pay decreases. No figure was given, but McLaren said the percentage of the cut is the same for all employees who are not furloughed.

McLaren said in an email that “these measures are focused on protecting jobs in the short term to ensure our employees return to full-time work as the economy recovers.”

Sainz Jr. tweeted his support, saying “I fully understand these tough decisions and I have obviously decided to take a pay cut. We are all in this together.”

The first eight races of the 22-race campaign have been called off because of the virus. The season-opening Australian GP and the showpiece Monaco GP have been canceled, while the others might be rescheduled.

There is no date set for when the season might start, with the Canadian GP the next scheduled race on the disrupted calendar on June 14.

The season is scheduled to finish with the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 29, but F1 organizers previously said they anticipated that “the season end date will extend beyond our original end date.”

To further save costs and potentially gain time, engine manufacturers and teams are observing a three-week factory shutdown period. It normally would have been two weeks and would have taken place during the midseason summer break.