Mercedes owners Daimler are reportedly willing to give George Russell a shot in 2021. Lewis Hamilton is technically a free agent as he has no F1 contract for the 2021 campaign. The Brit is still negotiating with Mercedes but their co-owners Daimler are reportedly not keen on giving in to Hamilton’s demands.
Hamilton is apparently holding out for a deal worth £35.5million-a-year, which will ensure he remains as the best paid driver on the grid.
The 35-year-old will create history next year if he surpasses Michael Schumacher’s record with an eighth world title. Mercedes are expected to continue their dominance which has seen them scoop the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships for the past seven seasons.
Hamilton is keen to drive the best car on the field to help strengthen his claim of being the greatest of all time. But Motorsport.com’s Italian branch reports that Mercedes co-owners Daimler, who have a third of the shares, are not happy with Hamilton’s attitude.
Their board of directors are apparently keen to go ahead with offering Williams ace George Russell the position.
Russell stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix and would have won the race had it not been for a horrific double-stacked pit stop and late puncture.
Daimler president Ola Kallenius has given Toto Wolff a mandate to close the deal as soon as possible, but with a series of constraints, according to Motorsport.com.
Wolff committed his future to Mercedes last month when he penned a three-year contract extension to remain as team principal. Valtteri Bottas is also under contract until the end of next season, but talks with Hamilton are continuing to rumble on.
“We are not worried about eventually getting it done,” Wolff said last month.
“We are not putting a special date to it because we don’t want to be under pressure.
“Sooner or later it needs to be done and at the latest before we go testing [ahead of the 2021 season].”
Meanwhile, former F1 star Mark Webber believes Wolff holds the stronger hand at the negotiating table because of how he used Russell at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
“The timing [of the positive coronavirus test] for Lewis was just horrible,” Webber told At The Controls podcast.
“I think we all thought during the season ‘imagine if Lewis or someone in the Championship battle got Covid and missed a few races’.
“I think I drove 1,000 days in a Formula 1 car with testing, practice, Grand Prix weekends, the whole thing put together over 12 or 13 years, and I think I had three days off.
“That’s because I don’t want anyone near my car. You try to look after your own share price, you don’t want people to have exposure to your material, your people.
“It’s such a cut-throat industry, even someone like Lewis that was all downside for him.
“George drove well. It was the easiest track in the world – it wasn’t exactly Suzuka – but he still drove brilliantly in a compromised ergonomic environment in the car.
“Toto certainly likes the tightrope in terms of playing the game with lots of different things in the pit lane, and that was another one where it looks like it’s come out in his favour.”