Wolff: Mercedes ‘Never Played’ Russell Card in Lewis Hamilton F1 Contract Talks

Published 01/25/2021, 5:30 AM EST
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates winning a 7th F1 World Drivers Championship with Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Turkey at Intercity Istanbul Park in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

We are on the eve of the 2021 F1 season and yet, the Mercedes-Lewis Hamilton contract saga still rumbles on. The coveted race seat of the reigning World Champion still remains vacant. However, his boss, or, God forbid, former team boss, Toto Wolff, has come forward to ease all the tension surrounding this saga.


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Hinting at a new deal being finalized between the two parties, he gave a rather tongue-in-cheek response during an interview with Austrian television network ORF.

“I already threatened Lewis that I am next in line who will take the seat. But we need to adjust the car, that is the only problem.”


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SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 13: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP prepares to drive on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

There have been widespread speculations surrounding the reason why Mercedes hasn’t sealed the deal. Many in the F1 community believe that they are using George Russell as leverage to lower Hamilton’s demands.

While the prodigy showcased his talent in Sakhir, Toto Wolff said his name never came up once in the negotiations.

“We never played the George Russell card on him. George did extremely well and will someday sit in a top car but in our long-term partnership, it’s not about making any threatening gestures,” said Wolff.

Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – December 5, 2020 Mercedes’ George Russell in the garage during practice FIA/Handout via REUTERS

So why hasn’t Mercedes confirmed Lewis Hamilton yet?

This begs the question, what is causing the holdup between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in the first place?

According to Wolff, it is more to do with finances and the two of them will have to converge at some point eventually before the season-opener in Bahrain.

“We know we want to drive together and now we just have to negotiate the contract. As is the case with negotiations you come from different corners, it’s quite normal,” said Wolff.

“We have a solid basis in our relationship, we have enjoyed great success and we want to continue that but sometimes 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.”


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Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace

An arrow to the heart of Russell fanatics! But a sigh of relief for those wanting Hamilton to continue his partnership with Mercedes.

For someone gunning for a record eighth world title, it would be a major travesty to be denied a shot at glory because of a financial matter rather than his own driving ability.


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Bharat Aggarwal

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Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.



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