With just a single grand prix of the 2020 F1 season to go, Lewis Hamilton is still yet to sign a contract extension with Mercedes beyond the end of this year.
It is believed that Hamilton, now a seven-time Formula One World Champion, has been trying to negotiate a pay rise, while Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, have been looking to reduce his salary.
Following George Russell’s strong performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton’s bargaining power in these contract extension negotiations has been reduced, according to ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle.
Writing in his latest column for Sky Sports F1, Brundle said he is certain that Mercedes’ decision to run Russell as Hamilton’s replacement last weekend was a strategic decision.
“I have no doubt that by using Russell instead of the official test driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who was inbound anyway, was a big tactical decision by Toto Wolff.”
Continuing, he explained: “With Hamilton playing hard to get regarding a signature on a new contract, and doubts whether Valtteri Bottas was really stepping up to the plate lately despite his miserable luck, George would answer a few questions one way or the other.
“And so it proved to be as he assuredly led the race after a perfect start, and without being entirely comfortable inside the car or fully up to speed with all of its systems, Russell dramatically raised his own value and opportunities, capped Hamilton’s, and dented Bottas’,” Brundle added.
It’s currently unclear if Lewis Hamilton will be able to compete in the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
George Russell will undoubtedly be keen to have another opportunity to prove his worth at the sharp end of the field and try to win his first race in Formula One.