Sir Lewis Hamilton’s contract saga appears to be endlessly drawing on, with the seven-time World Champion and the Mercedes F1 Team yet to announce a new deal which will see them continue to race together in 2021 and beyond.
On Tuesday, a source told Formula1News.co.uk that George Russell has a “real chance” of replacing Sir Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2021 amid the “unprecedented situation.”
However, former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has said he believes that Sir Hamilton and Mercedes have already inked a new deal and are simply trying to get as much media attention as possible in the off-season.
“It’s all just a show so that Lewis in particular stays in the headlines during these dreary weeks,” Ecclestone said.
Earlier, ex-F1 driver Christijan Albers said he believes that George Russell shattered Sir Lewis Hamilton’s “whole plan” to negotiate a pay rise with the Mercedes F1 Team.
Speaking on the De Telegraaf newspaper’s F1 podcast, Albers said the young Brit’s strong performance in the Mercedes W11 in Bahrain has given the Silver Arrows a clear alternative to Sir Hamilton should he decide not to yield.
“Lewis thought that it would all work out, that he would become world champion and he could therefore increase the pressure for a higher salary,” Albers said.
“What he didn’t realise was that he would get COVID-19 and George Russell would get in the car and actually shatter his whole plan, literally and figuratively.
“Just explain to the CEO of Daimler, one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, why Lewis Hamilton is so special when he sees a George Russell actually pushed in and crushed in a bathtub that he doesn’t fit in at all. We all know he would actually win the race,” the ex-F1 racer added.
Why Is Sir Lewis Hamilton Yet To Agree A New Deal?
According to previous reports, Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have failed to agree a new deal thus far because the seven-time World Champion is pushing for a pay rise.
Daimler, in particular, is opposed to yielding on this point, according to reports.
Furthermore, the Silver Arrows and Sir Hamilton are also reportedly at odds with regards to the length of his new contract, with the Brit pushing for another multi-year deal while Mercedes apparently just want to offer him a single-year extension to keep their options open for 2022.
Formula1News.co.uk approached the Mercedes F1 Team for comment on this last week, but the Brackley-based constructor said they “don’t comment on speculation and rumours, and there are a lot of them about right now.”