Sports Mole rounds up all of the latest news regarding Formula 1 on Thursday, December 10.
Thursday morning's Formula 1 news roundup
Red Bull has denied that it will rush to snap up Sergio Perez after the out-of-work Mexican secured his first Formula 1 race win in Bahrain last Sunday.
Like Nico Hulkenberg, Perez has been linked with the struggling Alex Albon's race seat for 2021. The team has said consistently that it will make its decision about Max Verstappen's teammate after Abu Dhabi this weekend.
"Sergio Perez's victory in Bahrain has no influence on our decision," Dr Helmut Marko, the boss of Red Bull's notorious driver program, told f1-insider.com.
"We already knew the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates for the cockpit before that. After the last race in Abu Dhabi we will sit down and make the best possible decision."
Marko also ruled out speculation that Red Bull might now make a move for George Russell, after the regular Williams driver almost won in Bahrain last Sunday at the wheel of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.
"Russell is not an issue for us," Marko insisted. "He certainly did a great job last Sunday, but quite a few drivers in the Mercedes would have done that too."
Marko suggested that the biggest problem with Russell is his links to Mercedes.
"Firstly, he is a Mercedes driver, and secondly he is managed by Toto Wolff," said the Austrian. "In any case, he has told us on the side that he has a ten-year contract with Wolff.
"That is out of the question for us. We have young drivers who also have great talent who we want to develop for ourselves, like Yuki Tsunoda."
The FIA has listed Russell as a Mercedes driver for Thursday's official press conference in Abu Dhabi, with Wolff admitting "some question marks" hang over whether Hamilton will be able to return.
"Lewis's condition is improving, but we won't know until closer to the time if he will be driving," Wolff said.
As for the rumours suggesting Mercedes may put Russell next to Hamilton full-time from 2021, the Austrian said: "To be honest, I haven't made up my mind what that (the Bahrain performance) means for us."
Toto Wolff says he is "curious" to observe the next developments in Esteban Ocon's Formula 1 career.
After the Mercedes junior driver lost his Force India seat at the end of 2018, Wolff made him reserve driver for the works team and for this year helped broker his return to the grid with Renault.
Ocon, 24, continues to be managed by both Mercedes and Wolff.
So Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, was asked after Sunday's Sakhir GP to comment on Ocon's first-ever podium finish.
"I'm really happy to see Esteban up there because he has had a difficult season," said the Austrian.
"In probably half of the qualifying sessions there was the smallest gap between him and Daniel Ricciardo. And many of the races could have turned out differently."
Wolff was speaking amid the hype of another Mercedes junior's performance in Bahrain - George Russell, the Williams driver who almost won at the wheel of the ill Lewis Hamilton's car last Sunday.
When asked about Ocon, Wolff said: "We know about Esteban's talent. Sometimes you just have to give them time to untie the knot and they start to perform well.
"I'm curious now to see how things will continue from here, but I think he deserves the podium and Renault deserves to be up there as well," he added.
Wolff also called the Sakhir GP podium "refreshing", as it was occupied not only by Frenchman Ocon but also first-time winner Sergio Perez and his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll.
Wolff is a minor shareholder of Aston Martin, the British carmaker bought by Stroll's father Lawrence Stroll, who will rebrand Racing Point as Aston Martin for 2021.
"I'm happy for Sergio because he was so fast out there, and of course I'm happy for Lawrence," Wolff said.
He explained that billionaire Stroll has proved that "intelligent decisions and intelligent strategies can lead to success".
"Who would have thought a year ago that Racing Point would finish first and third with all the pessimists out there? At the end of the day, he put his words into action," said Wolff.
More news from Formula 1:
Haas condemn Nikita Mazepin over "abhorrent" video
The 21-year-old has also apologised for his 'inappropriate behaviour'. Read more.
Mercedes to make late call on Lewis Hamilton ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The seven-time world champion must return a negative Covid-19 swab before he is allowed to travel. Read more.
Russians defend Mazepin amid 'groping' scandal
A prominent Russian motor racing official has defended 2021 Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin amid a scandal accusing the 21-year-old driver of 'groping' a friend. Read more.
No 'young driver' test for Sainz or Vettel
Current Formula 1 drivers have been told by the FIA that they are not eligible to do the 'young driver test' in Abu Dhabi after this weekend's 2020 finale. Read more.