Lewis Hamilton contract: Toto Wolff would be ‘foolish’ not to use George Russell tactic

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Former F1 driver Jan Lammers says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff would be “foolish” to not use George Russell’s impressive performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix against Lewis Hamilton during contract talks.

Hamilton is technically a free agent after his most recent deal came to an end in December.

The seven-time world champion is thought to be asking to retain his £40million-a-year contract but Mercedes are looking to cut costs.

If the Brit does not put pen to paper then the Silver Arrows could turn to Williams star Russell.

The 22-year-old impressed when he stepped in for Hamilton last season and he would have won the race in Bahrain had it not been for a late puncture.

Wolff has admitted that he could offer Russell a permanent Mercedes seat in the future and Lammers reckons the Austrian could threaten Hamilton with moving that plan forward.

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“I don’t think Mercedes expected Russell to do so well Prix,” Lammers told RacingNews365.

“But now that it does, it would be foolish for Mercedes not to use it against Hamilton in the contract negotiations.

“And we all know one thing for sure and that is that team boss Toto Wolff is not stupid.”  

However, Wolff has ruled out using Russell as a pawn in Hamilton contract talks.

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“We never played the George Russell card on him,” he told ORF.

“George did extremely well and will someday sit in a top car but in our long-term partnership (the Hamilton/Mercedes one), it’s not about making any threatening gestures.

“We knew we wanted to drive together and now we just have to negotiate the contract.”

He added: “As is the case with negotiations, you come from different corners, it’s quite normal.

“We have a solid basis in our relationship, we have enjoyed great success and we want to continue that but somethings you have to talk things out and that took us some time or is still going on, but before Bahrain at the latest we have to sign something.

“The lawyers are working hard, of course we don’t make life easy for them when we both keep on discussing like crazy over Zoom and keep sending curveballs to the lawyers.

“But he is now in the USA and I am here and at some point we will finalise it.”

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