Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has called into question the future of the manufacturer’s young driver programme because of a scarcity of racing opportunities in Formula 1.

Esteban Ocon, George Russell and Pascal Wehrlein have all been brought through the junior ranks thanks to Mercedes’ support, yet a lack of available seats has dimmed their prospects for the future.

Frustrated by the state of affairs, Wolff admits that Mercedes could simply choose to scrap its junior investment programme altogether.

“[We have] three really talented kids with a lack of opportunities – and this has come to a point now where we need to decide what we do in the future,” said Wolff, speaking to

“Funding a junior team is not an option. Putting $80, $90, $100 million every year in a junior team just to give your young drivers a place is not what I would want to do.

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“And on the other side, if the drivers are stigmatized as Mercedes drivers, then it seems to be not the best-selling proposition.

“Being a racer at heart, I still feel the best talent needs to be supported and developed, and I hope that we find a solution for these guys.

“If we cannot find a solution for these guys then I would question the junior programme in the future. And then we go back to a pay driver model.

“If you cannot find a place for them in F1 then it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and that would be a shame in terms of the driver level in F1,” he added.

“I will discuss that with the board and the management at the end of the year depending what the outcome is for George, Pascal and Esteban.”