Mercedes open to idea of F1 B-Team

Wolff Exclusive: Lewis Hamilton could leave racing in a year or two (3:31)

Mercedes executive director, Toto Wolff, talks to ESPN about his relationship with Lewis Hamilton and what the future holds for the four-time world champion. (3:31)

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has been impressed by Ferrari's "very visionary" link-up with Sauber and is considering implementing something similar for the world champions.

Ferrari's partnership with Sauber for 2018 will see the team officially badged as 'Alfa-Romeo [part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group] Sauber'. The deal also saw Ferrari juniors Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi handed a race seat and reserve role respectively.

The Italian team also enjoys a close technical partnership with Haas which caused controversy during the American team's debut season in 2016. Wolff is wary of how the latest deal could strengthen Ferrari.

"I think what [Ferrari president] Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio [Arrivabene] are doing is very clever," Wolff told ESPN. "They've had a good relationship with Haas. That has helped Haas and helped Ferrari and what they are doing now with Sauber is very visionary. With Fred [Vassuer] he has a team principal on the other side who knows the business inside out and it can be an alliance that can be dangerous for us."

Wolff is open to the idea of Mercedes copying either Ferrari example with another team on the grid and has admitted it is an area he is already exploring.

"It's something that we are considering. It's not easy because you don't want to distract your own organisation with a collaboration with another team on the other side. We are not the only ones who are having intelligent ideas -- we are having discussions but nothing is done yet."

Interview by Laurence Edmondson