But there is a small chance the situation could be taken out of his hands. Rightly, Wolff acknowledged the value Hamilton “brings to the team as a driver and as a brand”, and that as a sportsperson he “has a shelf life”, and there will be a career beyond F1 that will require him “putting money aside for ventures in the future”.
But there was a poignant flipside. Wolff then added: “Lewis knows the limitations of the team and where we need to put the money, that [parent company] Daimler is not in an easy situation today, and that's why almost with any kind of discussion we know where it's going to end. Money was never a problem.”
Bear in mind this conversation took place two months ago before businesses the world over were forced to tighten their belts, and for Wolff to comment back then that “Daimler is not in an easy situation”, one wonders as to its financial health at present.
Most recently, we have seen Audi withdraw from DTM, instead opting to focus its attention on Formula E. In 2009, when the global credit crisis ripped the heart out of the worldwide economy, Toyota and BMW ended their involvements in F1.
The damage done to the economy on this occasion is understood to be far more severe, and Daimler will be mindful of its primary focus as a road car manufacturer, compared to its secondary pursuit in motorsports, in these tough times. Like Audi it, too, has a foothold in Formula E, with electric the future of the car industry as petrol engines slowly become phased out over time.
This is all long-term, of course, but the pressing short-term needs will weigh on its future plans, and there may be question marks being raised within the boardroom as to the necessity of continuing in such a financially-draining series as F1.
Wolff has a vested interest, of course, as he has a 30 per cent stake in Mercedes' motorsport's operation, and like any businessman, he may also be counting the cost of the current pandemic.
Hamilton and Wolff have enjoyed a remarkably successful partnership together, and the smart money suggests it will continue, but in this wholly uncertain situation, it has raised a seed of doubt.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.