Lewis Hamilton, winner of the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday has been linked with a possible switch from Mercedes to rival Ferrari.
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said that scenario had been discussed during contract talks last year.
“I prefer it when they are in the mix with us,” he said. “I prefer the races where, for example Bahrain, they’re on the front row. I love that. Especially when we’re kind of intertwined.
“The last couple of years that’s what we’ve had and from a driver’s point of view and a team’s point of view it’s much better.”
Earlier Sunday, Wolff told reporters that he and Hamilton had discussed a future switch from Mercedes to Ferrari during contract talks and he stressed that it was important and “no drama” to be respectful and open-minded on the subject.
“We had the discussion when we negotiated the last contract and I think that you just have to be open-minded and understand that drivers will explore opportunities that exist and benchmark themselves,” said Wolff.
Hamilton who edged teammate Valterri Bottas for the Spanish title said he was inspired to victory after he received a humbling message from a five-year-old boy who is fighting cancer.
The defending five-time world champion said the message from Harry Shaw, who is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, helped him defeat Bottas who beat him to pole in a “nightmare” qualifying session on Saturday.
Hamilton said that, after being outpaced by Bottas, the message was a welcome boost to his spirits.
“Yesterday was a difficult day, but I arrived today and I got this great message from this young kid called Harry and he just became my spirit and that was my inspiration,” Hamilton told Sky Sports after winning ahead of Bottas to return to the top of the world championship.
“When I woke up, I was a bit lost and kind of ‘how’s today going to go?’ and then I saw that message and I was like ‘I see you Harry – I’ve got you’.
“So I want to dedicate this one to Harry, if you are watching, and sending you the love.”
Hamilton told reporters that after being outpaced to pole by Bottas at three consecutive events, he intended to analyse his one-lap performances.
“Yesterday, it was a bit of a nightmare,” he said. “But luckily race pace has generally been quite good for me. I’ve been really happy and comfortable generally in the races.”
After a fifth successive Mercedes one-two, Hamilton said he hoped that Ferrari would recover their form and mount a serious challenge to Mercedes.