Toto Wolff hopes Lewis Hamilton will remain with Mercedes for a long time to come but understands why the "free spirit" wants to keep his options open.
Hamilton's contract expires at the end of next season and the Formula One world champion is in talks over an extension.
The Briton has stated that he expects to remain in the sport until at least 2020, yet Mercedes boss Wolff knows there are no guarantees that the four-time F1 champion will remain with the Brackley-based team long-term.
Wolff told the BBC 5 live Formula 1 review show: "Of course he has it in him to want to be the very best and outscore all the results but equally he is a 'frei-geist' – a free spirit – and he wants to keep his options open, whether he stays a racing driver in 2019 or becomes a fashion entrepreneur.
"We are in negotiations about a new long-term contract and hopefully Lewis can stay with us for many more years.
"This is the wish of all the parties. He wants to be with us and we would like to keep him obviously but at the same time I think he just needs to have the peace of mind that whatever he decides to do in the future he can do.
"At the moment, he loves F1 and he doesn't want to do anything else and all the rest is hobbies but maybe in two or three or four years down the line he changes."
Wolff added that Mercedes will keep an open mind over their driver line-up beyond next season.
"If you would have asked me the question one year ago I would have said having Lewis and Nico [Rosberg], two drivers who have a strong rivalry and are pushing each other and making the car faster," he said.
"But we have realised that the positive dynamics we had between Valtteri [Bottas] and Lewis in a difficult season like we had in 2017, was an asset.
"In so far as I would like the pairing to continue, we are committed to both of them in 2018 but having said that 2019 is a very exciting new year.
"There are young drivers that will have gained more experience and some of the very good ones like Daniel [Ricciardo] become free.
"And what we want to see is how the first third of the season pans out, whether our car is good enough and strong enough, and this is what we are actually concentrating on and then we will analyse and then take the right decisions hopefully."
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