Russell’s Mercedes chance was ‘horrible timing’ for Hamilton’s contract negotiation – Webber

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton’s contract negotiations with Mercedes will have been compromised by his absence from the penultimate race of last season, Mark Webber believes.

The seven-times world champion missed the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for Covid-19. Mercedes junior driver George Russell substituted for him and led much of the race before a pit stop error and puncture dropped him back.

While Hamilton is widely expected to agree terms with Mercedes to race for them again in the 2021 F1 season, Webber pointed out Russell’s strong showing in his car will weaken Hamilton’s ability to command the maximum possible price for his services.

“The timing for Lewis was was just horrible,” Webber told the At The Controls podcast.

“I drove 1,000 days in a Formula 1 car with testing and practice and grands prix and weekends. The whole thing put together over 12 years, if you look at how many actual physical days in the car, I think I had three days off, because I don’t want anyone near my car.

“You’re just trying to look out for your own share price. You don’t want people to have exposure to your material and your people. And it’s such a cutthroat industry. Even someone like Lewis, that was all downside for him, generally.”

Webber believes Russell performed well enough for Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff to use it to his advantage in his negotiations with Hamilton.

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2020
Why Russell’s Mercedes debut could hit Hamilton in the pocket
“George drove well. Yes, it was the easiest track in the world. It wasn’t exactly Suzuka. But he still drove brilliantly in a compromised, ergonomically, 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.”

Hamilton’s new Mercedes deal could also be complicated by the possible introduction of a driver salary cap in the future, Webber added.

“Obviously him and Toto enjoy a very good relationship. I think that they would have liked to have been nipped in the bud by now.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
F1 drivers salaries 2020
“But obviously the timing around certain things, particularly his virus right at the end and this [salary] cap, which is coming in for drivers in the future, whether that’s going to clip him in the back part of his [deal] – depending on how long the term of the contract is of course, it’s not going to be starting next year – but looking at how that would potentially challenge the back end of his contract in terms of how the numbers would look. So I’m sure that’s all on the table.

“He wants to [extract] every single opportunity you can, financially, out of the situation because he believes he has a value and he does. He brings a lot to the sport, he brings a lot to Mercedes. He is box office and he wants that to be recognised.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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138 comments on “Russell’s Mercedes chance was ‘horrible timing’ for Hamilton’s contract negotiation – Webber”

  1. Hamilton will not race for ever and it makes sense for Mercedes to evaluate other potential drivers when the opportunities arise.
    One thing I’ve learned over the years about others speculating about drivers and teams, they usually have no idea what the key issues are about.
    One point I believe had delayed Hamilton committing to the team was the potential change in team ownership and then the appointment of key personnel. Since that has been sorted out, he can now negotiate reduced PR duties and traveling.
    At the back of the management of Mercedes was how Mclaren handled the transition of their key driver and team performance motivator. It was done very badly and that team suffered a lot of good will from fans.
    Mercedes will have to build up Russell’s profile just like how Ferrari have built up Leclerc’s profile and then they can comfortably set sail with him.

    1. One thing I’ve learned over the years about others speculating about drivers and teams, they usually have no idea what the key issues are about.
      One point I believe had delayed Hamilton committing to the team …

      Interesting sequence of sentences ;)

      1. Yeh I know, lack of self awareness is great isn’t it ! Unless He’s Eddie Jordan he knows as little as the rest of us. And if he is Eddie Jordan he knows even less

      2. Well I talk about facts already reported. Hamilton had talked about Wolff staying on as head.
        Hamilton has talked about having less PR duties.

        1. How humble to presents facts starting with “I believe”.
          You’re a gift that keeps on giving ;)

          1. Jenoir Sirtolli
            30th December 2020, 23:56

            Ahahahahah…

  2. What Russell showed in Sakhir is that winning in a Mercedes is not particularly difficult, even if the seat is too small for you and without any practice in the car.

    There’s no doubt that Russell removed a lot of mystique from Hamilton’s achievements.

    I would love to see Russell drive for Mercedes in 2021, with full pre-season testing and in a seat that fits properly. He would beat Bottas easily and win the WDC with several races to spare.

    1. “What Russell showed in Sakhir is that winning in a Mercedes is not particularly difficult”

      Errr….. He finished ninth…

      1. Radio communication and slow puncture, you know.

        1. Led from the front until the Mercedes tyre error, then drove a storming recovery drive, slicing his way through the field put an incredible pass on Bottas (I can’t remember Hamilton/Rosberg, Hamilton/Bottas putting passes like that on each other Russell did it in his first race), nearly caught Perez in the lead before a cruel puncture, then fought his way from the back to finish 9th, just finishing behind his teammate Bottas.

          If that’s not the performance of the season I don’t know what is.

          All anyone talks about his Hamilton winning in Turkey where he was stuck behind Vettel for 30 laps before the conditions greatly favoured the Merc.

          1. @deanfranklin maybe if “everyone” else sees something different to you then perhaps it’s your point of view that is not correct.

            I think there are plenty of other examples of outstanding performances that are above that such as Gasly, Sainz at Monza, Perez at the same race as Russell. That’s also ignoring some outstanding drives by Leclerc and Ricciardo. Russell just brought the car home in 9th, regardless of his performance that was the result. The end results have to count for something.

            Don’t worry though as Russell proved he deserves a shot in a top seat in the future in that race. It wasn’t make or break but he did prove he has the building blocks to be great.

          2. He had victory stolen from him because of an error from Hamilton’s pit crew.

          3. @deanfranklin

            I may defend bottas very often, but I think this time it was perfectly valid. Russel’s pass on Bottas was to be expected. He was on brand new tyres and Bottas had just spent 30+ seconds still with his old tyres off, cooling down and rolling around the pit lane while he had the wrong ones fitted and brakes set on fire. Then he got put back on his cold old tyres with overheated breaks. Any driver in the Mercedes on new tyres will have been able to pass Bottas at this stage. We can’t even compare them.

          4. Absolutely. Perez and Russell really were the stand out drivers all season.

          5. Yes the Bottas pass was amazing, Ive never seen anyone on brand new tyres go past someone on old tyres as if they wasnt there, Well apart from the others who sailed by Bottas at the same time

          6. The pit crew you’ll find his the Mercedes pit crew as both drivers use the same crew although don’t let the facts get in the way of your irrational narrative.

          7. (@deanfranklin

            (I can’t remember Hamilton/Rosberg, Hamilton/Bottas putting passes like that on each other Russell did it in his first race),

            Then you have a very poor memory–e.g. Bahrain 2014, Japan 2014 etc etc etc Hamilton has passed Bottas in a few races this year too–and, unlike Russell in Sakhir, not necessarily with a tyre advantage

          8. Russell drove brilliantly, no doubt. One can’t deny Bottas had a poor start & bad race. Perez won the race on hard tires two laps older than Bottas’s. But you overlook the fact that Bottas had his 21ish lap old Hards put back on and Russell had newish Mediums. That “incredible pass” on Bottas was handed to him on a silver platter.

      2. Some people really don’t watch the races, do they?

    2. There’s no doubt that Russell removed a lot of mystique from Hamilton’s achievements.

      Errr-he got outqualified by a brow beaten Bottas who had no tow–on a weird, easy track

      George has gone 2yrs without being outqualified, yet as soon as he pairs with a half decent teammate, he gets outqualified!

      1. Are you really comparing a guy that have been driving the same car for 4 years with a kid that could barely fit in the car and didn’t “knew the car” and had to be taught via radio? Really? WOW! Just WOW!

      2. Don’t let the beaten by someone with thousands of miles in their car while only having two days practice with a too small seat and undersize shoes to fit his feet into an ill fitting foot box get in the way of your stellar analysis.

          1. Again, some people don’t watch races it seems, those same people may say hamilton got outperformed by rosberg in 2016, and for all my criticism about hamilton because of driving such a superior car for most of his career I so don’t agree with that.

      3. Am completely stunned that a person would be stupid enough to put their name to a statement of utter cr@p!!
        Please revisit the facts.

        Oh, I now understand, YOU would have been quicker than GR & beaten VB!!!!!
        Not sure if Bell make approved 20XL helmets?

    3. That said, Russell is by no means the complete driver, yet. He has one or two rookie mistakes in him yet, as we saw with him spinning out on that restart, when he had a chance of williams first points.

      He did well on a circuit with plenty of run off, as such he could push the car without fear of hitting something, this too needs to be bourne in mind. On a tighter circuit he might not have done so well. His ability in a faster car on a tighter circuit remains to be seen.

    4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      1st January 2021, 20:17

      @kingshark @deanfranklin
      Happy New Year to you both. Tell you what I’m looking forward to in 2022? Lewis’s continued mystique in winning, George saying at the start that he has a lot to learn and people questioning whether George is that good after all or overhyped. It’s very predictable, and equally as misguided as the takes this year.
      I’ll make a prediction now. Lewis will be a 9 times WDC at the end of the 2022 season. Looking forward to the reasons why it’s not deserved or it’s just the car.

  3. Just like Ferrari were bold with Leclerc, RBR bold with Verstappen, Mercedes need to be bold with Russell.

    RBR don’t mess around. If someone stepped in for Verstappen and was immediately quicker than Albon, they’d drop Albon the next race. RBR done it time and again. You perform or you’re out.

    Plus it will make a mockery of the sport next year when Hamilton’s closest rival is the guy in the other side of the garage that got beat by the 22 year old substitute driver (who could barely fit inside the cockpit, everything set up to Hamilton’s preferences, still figuring out all the functions, etc).

    Imagine how much quicker Russell would be with a preseason or couple more races under his belt for Merc, or even with a cockpit setup to his preferences, a car built to his preferences. I think he’d be beating Hamilton (just my opinion).

    1. Bottas qualified and finished ahead of Russell, how was he “beat”?

      1. Yet another, you don’t watch races, do you? You just read results on websites.

        1. There’s a lot of those it seems.. Some also gives out knighthoods.

          1. LOL,

            Im sure the prime minster was glued to sky like the rest of us.

            Its not like he had nothing better to do….

    2. Which you are entitled to. It is just an opinion though. There are strong facts that point to the opposite being true though. Like… I dont know?…Lewis being the most successful driver ever in F1? Just off the top of my head

      1. @DeanR
        The most successful driver in F1 only with Mercedes and with Bottas as a teammate, because with Rosberg…you know…

        1. Even if that was correct it changes nothing. Sir Lewis Carl Hamilton MBE is the most successful driver ever seen in the pinnacle series of motorsport (That’s F1 FYI 👍) keep throwing your opinions out there. It changes nothing.

        2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          30th December 2020, 16:46

          @liko41 And why did Rosberg retire again? Let me remind you. He found it so hard to beat an already 3 times WDC he had to sleep in a separate room from his wife and expend every ounce of his energy on the job of racing to the exclusion of his family. Rosberg was at his absolute peak in 2016 and he won by 5 points. He himself said he couldn’t go through another year like that again.

          What facts would you like to produce to indicate that Rosberg would have beaten Lewis in 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 when the Rosberg himself didn’t think it was possible?

          Lewis is a 7 times WDC regardless of if it was Rosberg or Bottas in the other seat. His evolution since losing a WDC in ’16 has been monumental and is apparent to all in the know including Button and Brundle who know a thing or two. He was a fast driver before. Now he’s a great and arguably one of the greatest.

          1. @davewillisporter
            I was not talking about 2016, actually.
            Rosberg consistently beat Hamilton in quali and races (wins and poles were almost equally split between the two in a 4 year period) and, had he stayed, Hamilton wouldn’t have reached Schumacher’s milestones.

          2. @liko41 actually that’s not true as over their period together Hamilton was winning the majority of the races and would still have reached the same win milestones. The difference now is when Hamilton has a weekend where he doesn’t get the win, Bottas has often not been there to pick it up instead which is the wins that Rosberg got by and large.

            Rosberg mainly only won races where he got ahead at the first corner and then relied upon car parity to not let Hamilton pass. It was quite often when Hamilton was ahead he would leave rosberg behind where as Rosberg was rarely able to ever drop Hamilton in races.

          3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            31st December 2020, 16:42

            @liko41 It boggles the mind that you would still cling on to your stats when ROSBERG that’s NICO ROSBERG himself has stated publically that he would not have been able to repeat 2016, his best year and the only year he won a championship. Lewis won 10 races that year. About average for their time together and for 2017 – 20. He would have beaten the records regardless of which team mate he had.
            When drivers who have competed in the sport you comment on say what reality was at the time, listen to them. Otherwise it’s just arrogance.

          4. @davewillisporter
            Actually, no.
            With Rosberg on board, Hamilton definitely would NOT have beaten the outright records.
            Sorry not sorry.

          5. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            12th January 2021, 19:47

            @liko41 Lets look at facts as apposed to your opinion. Lewis’s win rate per year:
            2014 11 wins
            2015 10 wins
            2016 10 wins
            2017 9 wins
            2018 11 wins
            2019 11 wins
            2020 11 wins
            What exactly would Rosberg remaining as his teammate have done to his win rate given this consistency? And that is entirely hypothetical as, and again I cannot stress this enough, hence the shouty caps; ROSBERG QUIT BECAUSE HE REALISED AND HAS ADMITTED PUBLICALLY HE COULD NOT SUSTAIN THAT LEVEL AGAINST LEWIS FOR MORE THAN ONE YEAR!
            I’m honestly asking you to think and sincerely wish you do.

          6. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            12th January 2021, 19:52

            @liko41 If you think you know better than historical facts and the actual driver who was there at the time and who has told us his story then then you are an extremely arrogant person or just a &^^%$

          7. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            12th January 2021, 20:05

            @liko41 I’ll just take this quote as an example of your total lack of understanding:

            I wasn’t talking about 2016, but about the general balance of their fight.
            Hamilton prevailed by a very slim margin: 32-22 wins, 35-29 poles.
            Had Rosberg stayed, Hamilton wouldn’t have reached any record.

            Apart from 2013, where Lewis finished the season ahead of Rosberg, in 2014 to 2016 they were fighting each other, end of. Lewis amassed 31 wins during that time.
            When going up against other drivers on track quite apart from his dismal record against Hamilton, Rosberg showed a weakness in his skill set and one which he has openly talked about if you care to pay attention. The last few laps of Abu Dhabu 2016 as an example. Suggest you listen to his thoughts on having Max and Seb behind him.
            How do you see Rosberg taking the fight to Ferrari in 2017 and 2018? How do you see Rosberg becoming a better driver than he had been between 2014 and 2016 when the man himself states publicly and openly and honestly if you bother to listen to anything the man has said since that 2016 was the best he had and he was at his very peak AND MOST IMPORTANTLY that he felt that form was impossible to repeat??????????????
            I’m sorry. I’m sick of BS, fake news and muppets who spread BS.
            Shut up and learn.

          8. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            12th January 2021, 20:37

            @liko41 Again, I repeat. It boggles my mind. You have the stats. You have first hand driver accounts. You have examples. Lewis is on 95 wins now and seven WDCs. What in the period 2013 to 2016 do you think if extended through 2020 would be different specifically???
            Rosberg, and I respect him as better competition than Bottas, had a grand total of two wins against better competition from other teams. Before Lewis joined Merc he had battled Ferrari and Redbull and a double WDC and a WDC team mate for 6 seasons and won twenty something races and a WDC.
            When Lewis joined Merc he trounced Rosberg 3 straight seasons.
            Rosberg went to the nth degree to win in 2016 and publicly stated that it took everything he had to achieve that and could not do it again, promptly retiring because he had achieved his only goal.
            Lewis according to all the experts, who have considerably more knowledge and expertise than you have demonstrated thus far, agree. Lewis raised his game in 2017 and is a seven times WDC because of it, battling Seb in Ferrari and Max in Redbull and holding off a very quick if inexperienced team mate while developing the car and the team to the point they are at now (credited by the team he drives for, some of the most highly respected players in F1)
            If you want to have opinions on a forum such as this, back them up or suck it up.
            I make no apologies for the level of ire I have directed at you this evening. None! I recommend you think and analyse more. Otherwise you’re just another Q anon conspiracy susceptible dribble bag waiting to be exploited.

          9. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            12th January 2021, 20:48

            @liko41 I’ll end it here. The driver that you surmise would have prevented Lewis’s current record tally is on record as saying what you believe was not possible. It just doesn’t get more accurate than that.
            Nico Rosberg disagrees with you!!!!!!!!!!
            Change your opinion!

          10. @davewillisporter
            Daveboy, your devotion is amazing, i give you credit for that.
            Nonetheless, numbers don’t lie.

            Mercedes’ other drivers’ performances per season:
            – 2014: 5 wins, 11 poles (Rosberg)
            – 2015: 6 wins, 7 poles (Rosberg)
            – 2016: 9 wins, 8 poles (Rosberg)
            – 2017: 3 wins, 4 poles (Bottas)
            – 2018: 0 wins, 2 poles (Bottas)
            – 2019: 4 wins, 5 poles (Bottas)
            – 2020: 2 wins, 5 poles (Bottas).

            Hamilton’s battle vs. Rosberg:
            – quali: 42-36
            – pole positions: 35-29
            – races ahead (when both finish): 37-27
            – race wins: 32-22

            Hamilton’s battle vs. Bottas:
            – quali: 53-25
            – pole positions: 37-16
            – races ahead: 51-21
            – race wins: 42-9.

            It’s pretty self evident that Bottas had been a much more comfortable teammate for Lewis.
            Thanks me later.

          11. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            13th January 2021, 23:39

            @liko41 Rosberg 5 wins, 6 wins, 9 wins and quits. This is the fact that you keep avoiding. HE QUIT! The reason was he couldn’t repeat his most successful year in F1. That’s from his own mouth. I don’t need your opinion to understand that. HE QUIT AND HE WAS QUITE CLEAR WHY HE DID! Until you address that you can howl at the moon.
            Address reality. Until you do you are nothing but a faint noise in the wind.

          12. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            13th January 2021, 23:50

            @liko41 Here’s the thing I am still boggled by. The actual driver that you present as being, if he continued, the reason Lewis would not have achieved the achievements he has, has actually gone on record in public and stated via his own words that the reality you have projected had he continued would not have happened. That’s the ACTUAL DRIVER, NICO ROSBERG TELLING YOU YOUR OPINION IS WRONG AND YOU STILL PERSIST?????????//???
            The guy you are speculating about has told you how it was. I don’t care about your opinion. It’s irrelevant when the driver you talk of blows your theory out of the water. That level of sheer arrogance is mind boggling. You think you know better than the guy who drove for the team for SEVEN SEASONS?
            Go away.

          13. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            14th January 2021, 0:04

            Any further posts on this subject will be considered as questioning Nico Rosberg’s talent and expertise.

        3. The most successful driver in F1 only with Mercedes and with Bottas as a teammate, because with Rosberg…you know…

          Vettel/Ferrari had the car to challenge for the titles 2017 and 2018….but ….because…you know

          1. @amam
            So what?
            When Vettel was at RB, Hamilton wasn’t on his road to become the winningest.

        4. @liko41 With Rosberg he had one season where he lost out by a tiny margin due massive point lost caused by issues outside his control in about 7 races out of the 9 that Rosberg won?

          1. @f1osaurus
            I wasn’t talking about 2016, but about the general balance of their fight.
            Hamilton prevailed by a very slim margin: 32-22 wins, 35-29 poles.
            Had Rosberg stayed, Hamilton wouldn’t have reached any record.

          2. Well in other seasons Hamilton had more issues than Rosberg too. At least half those Rosberg wins were because Hamilton was starting from behind or issues during the race. 7 of those already those from 2016 alone. Plus 4 more in the other seasons.

            If they both had working cars Hamilton would win 3 vs Rosberg 1. That is exactly the same as against Bottas.

            The difference however is that it’s currently Bottas who has more issues with the car. So he doesn’t gain back on Hamilton due to these issues like Rosberg used to do.

          3. @liko41 forgot to tag

          4. Rosbergs wins where Hamilton had issues:
            Melbourne 2014 (was already ahead)
            Germany 2014 (Hamilton started from the back)
            Bahrain 2016 (Hamilton crashed with Bottas, Rosberg already ahead)
            China 2016 (Hamilton started from the back)
            Russia 2016 (Hamilton started from 10th)
            Baku 2016 (Hamilton crashed in Q3)
            Belgium 2016 (Hamilton started from the back)

            That’s 4 races in al those seasons where he actually won when Hamilton had failures. It works both ways though.
            Silverstone 2014 (Rosberg gearbox issue)
            Singapore 2014 (Rosberg issues from the start, Hamilton was already ahead)
            Abu Dhabi 2014 (Rosberg issue, Hamilton was already ahead)
            Monza 2015 (Rosberg issue, Hamilton already ahead)
            Russia 2015 (Rosberg throttle issue, retiring from the lead)
            Canada 2016 (Rosberg bumped of the road by Hamilton, puncture later in the race, Hamilton already ahead)
            Austria 2016 (Rosberg brake by wire issue when ahead)

          5. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            12th January 2021, 21:05

            @liko41 and this. Given that Rosberg has already stated how mentally, physically and emotionally he was drained at the end of 2016, had he stayed on, what level of competition would he be performing at? Would he have taken the fight to Ferrari any better than Bottas did and again I refer you to Rosberg’s own comments, you know, the actual driver as apposed to your own warped sense of reality!
            Invent your own sense of reality if you must but keep it to yourself.

  4. No wonder Lewis wanted to get back to racing the moment he tested negative. I agree

    1. … I agree Russell made it look easy, but on the other hand Botas also has that technology, but what? Anyways, another great drive by Russell would have been very damaging to Lewis’ contract talks. It seemed he had the upper hand, but now it’s different. That of course doesn’t mean George will live up to the expectations.

  5. Agree with Webber. I think it also explains why Lewis came back to race immediately after he got a negative test result even though he was not at 100%, had lost 4 kg in just a week.

    But I feel the end result of this is not going to be a reduced salary for Lewis but a reduced contract length. Lewis is box office and is worth every penny. Mercedes will respect that and pay him accordingly.

    However, they now know they don’t need to depend on Lewis alone for a long time period. Lewis is 35 and perhaps has 3 to 5 years left in the sport. Lewis would have probably wanted a 2 or 3 year contract (in-line with prior contracts)

    But after the George debut, Merc would be comfortable with a 1-2 year contract (1 year would coincide with George’s Williams contract end and 2 would coincide with Max’s Red Bull contract end).

    I think Lewis chances of getting a 3 year deal (which would have taken him past the contract lengths of both these potential replacements) have been hit hardest by George’s Merc debut

    1. @Sumedh Max is contracted until 2023, so three would coincide with his current stint at Red Bull.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      30th December 2020, 11:09

      @Sumedh I think you have the wrong end of the stick there. George impacts Bottas’s chance of a new contract not Lewis’s. There is no desire within Merc to replace Lewis. Lewis wants a two year possibly three year contract and it will be signed. I suspect a two year deal with an option for 3 but we will have to wait and see on that. Regardless, Lewis will drive a 2022 Mercedes unless he has some kind of mental or physical problem. (I’m mindful that Michael retired in 2006 because in part he was drained.)
      What happens beyond 2022 will be a lot to do with the cars. Do they actually race closer? Is there more competition for the wins? These are things that motivate Lewis. He wants to go out fighting not cruising. Another two years of little competition and I suspect he will hang his helmet up. Close racing and intense fights might convince him to stay a year or two longer.

      1. Hmm, I think close fights would mean he’s less likely to keep racing.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          31st December 2020, 17:19

          Then you have no idea of what motivates Lewis. I base opinions on evidence. What’s your excuse?

    3. You’re not the only person who’s said it but why is Hamilton box office? He’s the most successful driver, celebrity status etc. But he’s actually not particularly interesting as a character, think James Hunt, Barry Sheen, Tyson Fury. Formula One desperately needs some characters. Some men’s men.

      1. “Hes the most successful driver ever, celebrity status etc” but APART from that… what has he got? 🤣
        “What have the Roman’s ever done for us” 🤣

      2. @Jasper I agree, he was box office back around 2007-11 but its difficult to be box office when you generally pull off the results people expect of you and the car you drive.
        He is the biggest name in the sport, opens a number of markets for Mercedes that George Russel for example would not.

      3. @Jasper
        “Some men’s men”

        Ooof…not sure you can say that sort of thing round here.

  6. Russell appeared to struggle in turn 1 at Sakhir, which is a slow speed corner, and the only one on the track. If there will be exposures of lack of pace, it will definitely be in the slow-technical corners, as the cars produce a lot of torque that requires good throttle management and car control. I’d imagine if it was the same situation on a track like Monaco/Singapore/Abu Dhabi (to some extent), USA, Hungary etc, Bottas might have had an easier time in outdriving Russell due to the former having more knowledge and experience of the car. Although it shows that the Mercedes car is easy to drive and the team knows how to build a proper car.

    For competition, I don’t think for entertainment we would want a Hamilton-Russell line-up in the Mercedes with the advantage they have. They will push each other to find more performance and they will also do the same to the team. Do you guys want to see Mercedes win every single race? Let alone 1-2’s? Hamilton and Rosberg were almost at the same level in terms of performance and they almost won every race in 2014-2016. Note that the Mercedes in 2016 had clutch issues, and their car now appears to be most all-around car they have ever made. They took pole position in all but one race in 2016, and don’t forget that Hamilton had engine issues in Monaco qualifying that did not allow him 2 runs in the final session.

    1. If there will be exposures of lack of pace, it will definitely be in the slow-technical corners, as the cars produce a lot of torque that requires good throttle management and car control.

      Immediately he was on the pace of Bottas and was clearly quicker than him 48 hours later in the race. I’m sure with a few more races under his belt, a cockpit he can fit into wearing normal sized shoes, the cockpit to his preferences, he’ll only get stronger and stronger.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        30th December 2020, 10:57

        @deanfranklin No denying George has the potential to be better than Bottas but you miss some key details. Bottas’s starts have been poor this year and it’s clear he hasn’t worked something out there. Had he got the kind of start Lewis normally gets he would have led the race not George. George was quicker on the first set of tyres but Bottas was significantly quicker on the second set. He closed George down by several seconds before the safety car and ensuing mess. Bottas almost never does that to Lewis. The gap gets bigger if Lewis is leading not smaller.
        If George had replaced Bottas and was racing Lewis, would George have come out looking as rosy?
        Ifs and buts aside, they were quite evenly matched over the whole weekend which is a testament to George and doesn’t reflect well on Bottas. I think he cooked his own goose this year with some poor performances regardless of George.
        I look forward to 2022 when George will almost certainly be in the seat alongside Lewis but as far as contracts for the next two or three years go, George is no threat to Lewis.

        1. @davewillisporter I’m pretty sure there have been a few occasions this year when Bottas has reduced the gap to Hamilton in the second stint this year including Silverstone. The problem is that he then kills his tyres for the remainder of the stint by taking too much performance, too early. This is something Bottas didn’t seem to understand this year.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            31st December 2020, 16:47

            @slowmo Literally watching the Silverstone highlights on Sky now. The gap increased slowly at first after the final stop and safety car with Bottas closing by a few tenths and then Hamilton extending by a few tenths. It hovered around 1.6 – 2 seconds then Lewis opened it up to 7 before Bottas’s tyre blew. That is Lewis controlling the gap not Bottas closing him down.

      2. That is because turn 1 was the only slow speed corner on the track. All the other corners were medium-high speed. I reckon on more technical tracks with the same circumstances, it would have taken a Singapore 2018 Hamilton performance from Russell to beat Bottas. Still give #63 his credit as I am a huge fan. However, I am worried that if a Hamilton-Russell line up would occur in the future, it w

        1. Ahh my goodness, the ipad just decided to work on its own. Anyway, I fear that Hamilton and Russell in the same car with the advantage Mercedes have, provided that stays, will just finish 1-2 in every race. I don’t think we would want that right?

          1. At least there’d be competition between the first 2 places, unlike now most of the times!

    2. Totto Wolf clarified that Russel had issues with braking at turn one due to the cockpit size issue.

  7. Richard Cantelo
    30th December 2020, 8:58

    Must admit, hadn’t even thought of how George’s immediate success in the car would lessen Hamilton’s contract negotiation power. Nevertheless, I’m sure Merc will look at entire picture; and that is Lewis has more than proved his legendary status, and Bottas is not up to the task of providing a realistic long term challenge.

  8. GR’s drive will have zero impact on the negotiations. LH’s skin colour trumps everything in this day and age and Merc want it regardless.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      30th December 2020, 10:39

      @blik If you believe that then I’ve got a bridge to sell you!

  9. According to Toto, what happened on the second Bahrain weekend won’t have any impact on negotiations.

    1. But I wouldn’t trust what toto says really, isn’t he also one who holds vettel in high regard? He also constantly talks up the competition when they often end up dominating, he doesn’t seem a trustworthy person.

      1. @esploratore Well it was clearly in their benefit to keep Vettel blundering away races at Ferrari. What would be his gain for pretending no impact on Hamilton’s contract?

  10. Personally I doubt Russell’s performance is much of a factor at all. I think the key words in this report are ‘Mark Webber believes’. It does not mean he’s right.

    I am sure Merc have had to consider what was going on with Toto as well and this will have delayed matters. Then as others have indicated I suspect the real issues are the length of the contract and what Lewis can or wishes to do off circuit.

    I imagine there will be a two year deal or possibly three years. I cannot see there being just a one year extension.

    1. Daniel caughlan
      30th December 2020, 10:31

      I think mark Webber knows a little bit more than the average person about how formula One contracts are negotiated a fair bit more than you Phil pretty sure he’s been through the process a couple of times himself so I would listen to his opinion before yours as he is one of Australia’s best formula One drivers

      1. Well, not like australia had many good drivers, even jack brabham wasn’t as good as 3 titles indicate.

        1. LH doesn’t have to get out at pits stops to change his own spark plugs.

      2. Daniel in case you don’t understand one of the main objects of this site is that members of public can express an opinion on the stories that are reported on. There is always lots of conjecture in these situations. The idea here is that we express an opinion on this.

        If no one commented it would just be a list of reports with nothing else. I like Mark Webber but he maybe right or he maybe wrong. We will find out one day.

        1. I think it’s unlikely that we’ll ever find out anything relevant or new (particularly with spin generated by the players in question). Hamilton did seem to be anxious to get back into the seat – most likely exactly for the reason Webber postulated but I doubt Russell’s performance will have any financial ramifications (might be a durational effect). Given a baseline of $xM to maintain motivation/face, I think Ineototedes has the whip hand because Hamilton isn’t going anywhere. It would have been intriguing if LH had been up for a slice of the team though.

  11. Meanwhile. Arise Sir Lewis Hamilton.
    The Knighthood in the New Year’s Honour’s List.
    CONFIRMED.

  12. I think Webber is reaching a lot here. Ultimately the main differentiator that makes Hamilton so valuable is his public image and winning the title each year. He still has the same profile and he won the title again. His value will only go down if his performance drops and there has been no evidence of that given he won 2/3 of the races this year and in fact was in the running for winning the last 2 races before he contracted Covid19 too.

    I think people are also underestimating the value in marketing for having the first and possibly only ever 8 time world champion driving their car. His name and success as the most successful F1 driver ever will always be closely tied with Mercedes in that instance and whenever footage is shown of Hamilton he’ll be driving their cars.

    1. Daniel caughlan
      30th December 2020, 10:38

      Slowmo Lewis is a good driver but I guarantee if you put Riccardo in a Merc he be just as good as Hamilton is in a Merc come on the sport of formula One has gone down the drain only way other drivers win in the last four years is because of Mercedes stuff up or engine failures other than that it’s a one team race just about all the time go back to V8 engine might even the field out a bit as their are not many electric or hybrid power engineers about so which team gets the best it’s a cake walk and who has most money so need to even up the sport a fair bit sick of seeing Lewis win nearly ever weekend it’s destroying the formula One big time

      1. F1 is a constructor sport as well as driver sport, maybe try laying the blame at the other constructors and drivers who are the problem and not Mercedes and Hamilton. The other constructors have also voted in several lots of rule changes in the last 6 years that could have helped them catch up but instead they’ve all been found wanting.

        The problem with statements like just go back to V8’s is not fixing the issue really as it’s pretty clear Mercedes are not only building the best PU but also the best chassis. Engine parity will not make Red Bull or Ferrari suddenly better than Mercedes.

        The next planned rule changes have a complete reset on aero philosophy and it sounds like they’ve approved a change to remove one of the hybrid components in future too now further reducing some of the advantages for the richest teams.

        On the subject of Ricciardo being up there with Hamilton, if in the same car, that might very well be the case but the factor you cannot judge is how much of the development performance in that Mercedes car comes from Hamilton being in the team. I still however doubt any driver on the grid can maintain the level of performance Hamilton does for an entire year. They may beat him in a third of the races but they’re still going to get beaten for the other 2/3’s making winning a championship very hard imo.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          31st December 2020, 17:22

          @slowmo when people make the point that Ricciardo etc could also be that good in the Merc ask them do they thing x driver would beat Lewis if he was still in the team when they joined. Tells all.

  13. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    30th December 2020, 10:36

    Firstly, I believe George should absolutely be in the Merc next to Lewis in 2021 and apparently Toto did too as he tried to get George out of his contract at Williams but Claire refused. He then had to sign Bottas for another year and is stuck with him. Maybe Bottas will find some super porridge next year and give us a title fight but my instincts say it’s more likely to be Max in a hopefully improved Redbull or nothing.
    Regardless of the above, George’s performance is only relevant to Bottas’s career and nothing to do with Lewis or his contract. With a dominant car and no Lewis Hamilton Merc would probably win but in a title fight with a close competitor you need the 7 times WDC in the seat. George may be fast but speed alone does not win championships. Lewis’s value is far beyond a Q3 time or fast race pace. These are considered a given and expected of a top driver capable of race wins. Consistency, feedback, driving development concepts, motivating, inspiring, marketing value etc etc etc are also what determines Lewis’s net worth to the team. George doesn’t threaten that yet!
    Time and again teams have stated that in selecting drivers they do not focus on one race. Rob Smedley on the F1 review has explained the metrics they analyse when comparing drivers. They look at the career and the last year of racing and at certain data points in races. George did a great job in Sakhir but Merc would not have missed the fact that Bottas was rapidly closing him down on the hard tires in the second stint before the safety car and he does not do that to Lewis!
    What George gives Toto in terms of negotiating power with Lewis is a tongue in cheek dig if Lewis asks for too much and not much else. Bottas gets beaten by Verstappen, George is untested at the front and both are untested in a tight title fight. Signing Lewis is a no brainer going into 2022 and Toto knows it! Expect another megabucks multi year deal coming soon, and later in the season Merc to announce George is replacing Bottas for 2022.

    1. Great points man, I for one don’t think George would be a title threat to Lewis next year, he hasn’t had that challenge yet and likely would need to lose a championship before he could learn how to win one especially against a 7 time champion. 2022 is a huge wildcard though. Surely Mercedes dominance has to be coming to an end, don’t you think Lewis is weighing that possibility?

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        30th December 2020, 16:29

        @canadianjosh no I don’t think Lewis wants to retire before he has a proper fight for a title. I think as much as he has enjoyed this season he wanted more racing at the front. I for one am with him on that. If there are two or three teams in the mix each race and he wins a 9th WDC, his critics will have nowhere to go. The “just the car” myth will be buried and Jackie Stewart et al can button it!

        1. Well, as a “critic”, more critic towards people who make him look like a god without factoring into the car advantage, I would like to see him go against 1-2 teams with strong cars and drivers, and I’m not saying he would necessarily fail, but he has to prove that, he didn’t prove much these years in terms of beating strong drivers with similar cars.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            31st December 2020, 16:52

            @esploratore Hamilton does not need to prove anything. His rookie year in F1 up against Alonso, winning the WDC in his second year when Ferrari won the constructor’s championship has already proved what you are seeking. Win every year of his career. He was always a great driver. Now he’s a great driver with a great car. What is it about his entire motorsport career record that is absolutely stunning that you think needs more evidence?

    2. @davewillisporter

      Firstly, I believe George should absolutely be in the Merc next to Lewis in 2021 and apparently Toto did too as he tried to get George out of his contract at Williams but Claire refused. He then had to sign Bottas for another year and is stuck with him.

      Yes that’s what happened, apparently Williams had a veto to stop Merc from taking Russell. Russell will be in the Merc in 2022 and Bottas knows it no matter his performance next year.

      I’m hoping McLaren can get up into the mix to spice things up a bit with RB. It will be interesting to watch the dynamics between Verstappen and Perez on track. The pink Mercs I think will not be as competitive as this year for obvious reasons, maybe the Renaults can lift to make things interesting.
      Leclerc in the Ferrari will be one to watch out for.

    3. @davewillisporter
      You missinterpreted the key point: George doesn’t need to match Hamilton’s performance. He only needs to prove he could win in a Mercedes car and he did it brilliantly.
      Mercedes could well afford to hire him alongside Bottas for 2021, enjoy another two championship wins and wait for him to evolve into a Hamilton-esque driver for 2022.
      In the meantime, Hamilton would be out of F1 (since no other competitive seats are available now) and Merc would have spare a dime or two.

      1. Where is this spare dime coming from? Not only is George out of contract next year, but after the Merc outing his value has shot up. And the gap between the two salaries is far exceeded by the sponsorship that Hilfiger/Pilot/etc contribute because they are there because of Hamilton. So your idea will leave Merc without the biggest box office star in the sport, worth a bundle to Mercedes and there partners in PR, a 7 x WDC who delivers results, less sponsors, and its going to cost them far more than it would if they kept Bottas.
        And also btw send a signal to all the talent currently in Mercedes who are regularly offered more money by other teams, that Wolffs stance on loyalty is worthless.
        Can’t really see that happening, despite how much you want it.

        1. @riptide
          Russell would probably be satisfied with a 5 million contract, at least 35 less than what Hamilton is in talk for.
          DO you think ANY sponsor (apart from Petronas and, maybe, Ineos) covers that amount?
          BTW, with a full year of competition, George would probably develop into a championship caliber driver and the problem is gone.

          1. You mean like the $50 million plus that comes form Hilfiger for example.

            Any way I’ll let you get back to you fantasy of what ifs, buts, probable’s and other nonsense driven by your odd little agenda.

      2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        30th December 2020, 17:02

        @liko41 The “key point” I missed is irrelevant as it doesn’t bear up against reality. I miss lots of key points because they are pointless. Take this one:

        Mercedes could well afford to hire him alongside Bottas for 2021, enjoy another two championship wins and wait for him to evolve into a Hamilton-esque driver for 2022.
        In the meantime, Hamilton would be out of F1 (since no other competitive seats are available now) and Merc would have spare a dime or two.

        Am I supposed to take this seriously when it’s just idle speculation with no basis in reality?
        Mercedes are not going to hire Russell to replace Lewis in 2021 because they already tried to hire him to replace Bottas and couldn’t, so they gave Bottas yet another one year extension which coincides with the end of Russell’s contract at Williams. The three owner partners, Toto, Ratcliffe and Kallenius have all said they want Lewis resigned and it is up to Toto to get it done. Kallenius supports a large payout to Lewis. Saving pennies is not on the agenda.

        What George did is prove he can replace Bottas, which he will in 2022. What he did not prove is that he could replace Lewis. To do that he would need to consistently beat him in 2022 in the same car.
        I’m all for biggin up George but he did not race Lewis, he raced Bottas. I think Lewis has proved he’s better than Bottas!

        1. @davewillisporter
          The point is not whether Mercedes DOES hire Russell in 2021, but if it COULD replace Hamilton with Russell in a close future without suffering major setbacks.
          And the answer is arguably yes.
          Lewis itself, coming back in a rush in Abu Dhabi, knows it.
          That’s why it’s fair to assume his contract talks would be affected by Russell’s Sakhir showing.
          Mercedes knows it only needs Hamilton for one year, 2021.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            31st December 2020, 16:56

            @liko41

            Mercedes knows it only needs Hamilton for one year, 2021.

            What will your excuse be when they sign him for more than one year? Some advice. When your surmisings don’t match the reality of a situation realise your surmisings need more grounding in reality.

  14. I think the holdup on Lewis is the number of years he wants to spend in that Mercedes. 2021 is pretty much a guaranteed 8th title for him unless RBR can contend from the start of the season. 2022 however is possibly the end of Mercedes dominance and I’m sure that is what his camp are thinking about, does he want to end as an 8 time champ, does he want more Mercedes years or does he test the market in 2022. In a perfect world he signs 1 year, gets his 8th title and then sees what’s what.

    1. Pretty much agreed on that. I think he has other interests outaide of F1 and he wants to work on that as well. Lewis appears to be one of those who wants to explore and do a lot of different hobbies.

    2. @canadianjosh Yes, I agree with that assessment – on the flip side Mercedes will also be thinking about 2022 and whether they want an established driver to lead them through that transition. If Hamilton can’t (or won’t) commit to them on a multi-year basis then they may judge it is better to get Russell in now rather than have just one more year with Lewis.

      1. @red-andy is spot on. The Mercedes car has been 1 of the best but HAM nursed the car to wins for years until the engineers solved the problems so it is the absolute best car in 2019, 2020, and will be in 2021. The contract hinges on 2022 and beyond. HAM is worth the money to work through the issues of a new design if he is willing to do it.

    3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      30th December 2020, 16:24

      @canadianjosh Couple of things about Lewis. He repeatedly asks for closer racing and tyres that can be pushed and he has already expressed a desire to drive the 2022 cars in the hope that they will live up to the promises. Two more years is a minimum for Lewis. I don’t think he wants to dominate without being challenged. He loved 2017 and 2018 because he was fighting other teams and that’s what he wants in ’22.
      I can’t see anything that suggests he would sign for just one more year.

      1. @davewillisporter Just wanted to say I agree with much of what you have said in your several comments on this topic. I had already carried the opinion that nothing GR did in replacing LH while he was off will affect LH’s contract negotiations, so for sure I disagree with Webber’s opinion. I just don’t see Mercedes playing hardball with LH, ie. family, let alone over one weekend of GR in his car because LH was unfortunate enough to contract COVID. I didn’t know though that TW would have had GR for next year but for Williams blocking that. Oh well, 2022 GR at Mercedes it is then. Gonna be a blast to watch. Especially since VB is just so vanilla vs LH. Hopefully GR will provide some more excitement in terms of the driver pairing on the team and it already feels like he will.

  15. Poor Webber. By now everyone who knows f1 and racing in general should know that George Russel is fast. But being fast over 1 race does not dictate anything other than wishful thinking. Why did George get a puncture? When was the last time Lewis had a puncture? Maybe George is not soo good at dodging debris on track? Plus would Russel have the experience to take the merc to the next level with his experience by way of driver input like how Lewis does?? If anything georges performance in Lewis car is testament to how well Lewis has raised the driveability of the car.

    1. I suppose you may have a point. Hamilton is usually very vigilant when it comes to on track debris. Also, he would’ve questioned that ill-fated call to pit–he hates unnecessary pitstops late in a race and has often refused to pit. Also, George has gone 2yrs without being outqualified, yet as soon as he pairs with a half decent teammate, he gets outqualified! Hamilton who has beaten Bottas 11-4 in qualy (excluding AD where LH was still recovering from the affects of Covid 19). So, looking at it from that angle, maybe George’s performance has indeed accentuated Hamilton’s value

      1. @amam
        Actually not.
        Hamilton’s quali score against Bottas (even unnecessarily excluding Abu Dhabi) is worse than Verstappen’s and Ricciardo’s with their own mates.
        Russell was as quick as Bottas in his very debut with Merc, without proper testing and without having the car fitted for his own body.
        It’s easy to assume George would wipe the floor with Valtteri a lot more than what Lewis did.

        1. @liko41

          You are comparing apples and oranges. Bottas is a better/more proven qualifier than Albon. Bottas out-qualified Daniel Ricciardo in the lower categories and his more experienced teammates at Williams. Albon got outqualified by Kvyat, so of course Verstappen is going to have an easier time out-qualifying Albon than Hamilton is Bottas. And if you really want to go there, AWS research ranks Bottas quicker than Ricciardo, so i completely refute your theory

          1. edit

            it’s easy to assume George would wipe the floor with Valtteri a lot more than what Lewis did.

            just as it would easy to jump to wild conclusions that Vandoorne would wipe the floor with Button a lot more what Alonso did….lol! (Bahrain 2016)

            Wild extrapolations from 1 race

            George needs to concentrate on actually beating Latifi (whom George lost to in the standings minus the points he earned at Merc)

          2. @amam
            LOL at Bottas being quicker than Ricciardo. He barely beat an old Massa, who was trashed by Alonso at Ferrari (but ok, he was not treated fairly in the red team) and we all know the brazilian never regained his form after the 2009 shunt.
            And what about Leclerc’s record with Vettel?
            Ric vs. Ocon record?
            Hamilton is far less dominant against his teammates than all other primadonnas.

          3. Comparing lower categories is frought with difficulties. The drivers aren’t fully developed. E.g. Mick Schumacher F2 -2019 vs 2021 results.

            In fact Ricciardo wasn’t initially a quick driver.

        2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          30th December 2020, 17:14

          @liko41 Let’s not forget, Bottas needed an atta boy from Toto before Q3 because his head was well and truly down after Lewis sealed the championship. This wasn’t peak Bottas.
          If you’re going to surmise and speculate then by what margin do you suppose Lewis would have beaten Bottas to pole if he had been able to race in Sakhir?

          1. @davewillisporter
            LOL, Lewis actually lost the next week in a more complex Abu Dhabi circuit…
            (and no, him being “sick” is not a valid excuse.)
            Honestly, I’m struggling to understand why are we still arguing.
            Numbers said Hamilton is less dominant than other star drivers against his teammate.

        3. @liko41

          let me remind you, we were talking about qualy pace only

          LOL at Bottas being quicker than Ricciardo.

          Over 1 lap, yes. Let’s not forget Bot thrashed Ric in same spec cars pre F1. Ric is now a better all round driver than Bot, but it’s up for debate who is the quicker qualifier of the two. Research such as AWS suggest Bottas is the quicker qualifier

          He barely beat an old Massa,

          You mean he thrashed a 32-34yr old Massa approx 41-17?( in qualy). Out qualified Maldanado too.
          Not sure what the qualy figures were like re Alonso v Massa Massa but i would argue that Bottas faced a more motivated Massa than what Alonso faced. At Williams, Massa had equal status, was free to race. At Ferrari, he was in a team that would often focus more on Alonso. This affected his motivational levels. Smedley even stated so.

          Considering Bottas is just as quick as Ricciardo over 1 lap (arguably quicker), then Ric/Ocon stat doesn’t detrimentally affect Hamilton. Hamilton is faster than Bottas who is just as quick as Ric.
          As for Vet/Lerclerc, if we exclude Abu Dhabi where Hamilton was clearly not 100% well, then Leclerc, like Hamilton was also outqualified 4 times. Vettel had mentally checked out since being told his Ferrari contract was at an end. Comparisons are moot.

  16. Well, Russell is definitely WDC material as are Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Gasly, Norris, Ocon. Let’s not forget Alonso, Ricciardo, Perez, and Hulk. I suppose Bottas is also WDC material as everyone says he can easily win the WDC in a Mercedes.

    We also can’t dismiss the possibility that one or more of the new drivers may blossom into WDC candidates and that list includes Schumacher, Tsunoda, Latifi (if he’s a late bloomer), Giovinazzi, and I suppose Albon.

    There has never been more championship driver material in F1 to the point that it surprises me that Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes aren’t making every effort to sign Hamilton!

    1. @freelittlebirds
      Why should Ferrari or RB make an offer? THey already have younger, quicker drivers under contract.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        31st December 2020, 3:17

        @liko41 like I said, it’s very likely that one of the drivers I mentioned other than Lewis might win a championship throughout their career. Winning championships is tough business, apparently! It’s much, much harder than winning a single race.

        Although, I’d be very amused if Vettel racks up another 3 championships!

    2. You’re spot on: if anything has been proven by Lewis, it is that even a mediocre, error prone midfield driver who has thrown away more titles than Senna has won, paired with a clueless teammate, can rack up a bunch of titles when given the right car and the full backing of the FIA……

      1. …what are you talking about?

  17. Of course Russell showed Mercedes they really don’t need Hamilton per se and that it might weaken Hamilton’s negotiating stance, but Webber really hasn’t understood Mercedes if he thinks this will affect his seat or contract in any way.

    I mean, it’s public knowledge his contract renewal is just a formality that can be done at any time, even right before testing for chrissake. Even if nothing prior had taught Webber anything, this fact alone is all he needs to know.

    1. @balue
      I don’t know where all this confidence comes from.
      A lot of things have changed at Mercedes, Kallenius is no Dieter Zetsche and is far more interested in saving money and cutting unnecessary expenses.
      Does this mean he will get rid of Hamilton? Probably not.
      But the length of his new contract and the paychecks he will bank are probably going to be severely influenced by the Russell’s factor.

      1. @liko41 Saying publicly that the contract can be signed the day before the testing means Mercedes has voluntarily given up their negotiating position and is in reality giving a blank paper with a signature and telling Hamilton to fill out the rest and bring it when he arrives.

        Even the timing and delay itself is surely in deference to Hamilton’s wishing to bury it in the off-season, when he didn’t like crazy sums to come out when people were losing their jobs etc as he has already made clear.

        But this is just one factor. Wolff, and I believe even Zetsche said the marketing value of Hamilton was great, and Wolff is almost on Lauda’s level when it comes a bromance relationship with Hamilton so his position couldn’t be more secure.

  18. They can win with any other driver and save some money, just saying.

    1. Strange they didn’t win with George…..

  19. Michelle Sharp
    1st January 2021, 11:59

    Russell smashed Hamilton’s front Runner bravado, he’s ability at driving a car made for someone considerably smaller, has bigger feet and came back twice after pit and tyre faults. I wonder how Hamilton would perform in Russell’s car with limited familiarity of an unknown entity! Something we are not likely to see. It’s his car that gives us smoke and mirrors, which has now been exposed for what it is.

  20. Russell jumped into a very fast complex four wheeled vehicle that was set up by Lewis for that particular track. No offence to Russell, reset that same car to factory settings and let’s see how well he performs on that same track or any other.

  21. 20 races 20 different drivers. No regulations. Best team will win. Real competition for best driver. Kevin Magnusson would have done just as well as Russell in that race.

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