There’s no doubting that Mercedes would prefer to retain Sir Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 F1 season, but, according to reports, there is a “real chance” that George Russell could replace the seven-time World Champion at the Silver Arrows this year.
The two main sticking points in Sir Hamilton’s contract talks are believed to be the term of his extension – with the Brit pushing for another multi-year extension while Mercedes just want to offer him a single-year deal – and his salary.
Specifically, Sir Lewis Hamilton is reportedly demanding a pay rise despite a number of F1 drivers accepting pay cuts going into 2021 due to the coronavirus-induced global economic crisis.
F1 pundit and former car designer Gary Anderson has warned Sir Hamilton that he must be “realistic” and should take into consideration the current economic climate.
“The belief within the Mercedes team will be that Hamilton will stay on but the debate seems to be over the length of the deal,” Anderson said.
“So it’s about how long he wants to commit for – and for how much – rather than whether he is willing to.
“But he also has to be realistic because everything is suffering financially in the world given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even with the rule changes and the cost cap, teams are struggling to pull in the necessary money and with Mercedes cutting back on its wider workforce and these challenges he does need to buy into that situation and look at the bigger picture than just what he’s earning,” he added.
Continuing, Anderson said it is in all parties’ interests for Sir Hamilton to stay with Mercedes as his departure would be a “big loss”, though it wouldn’t necessarily stop the Silver Arrows from continuing its domination of the turbo hybrid era of Formula One.
“But it’s in the interests of the three parties that own the team – Mercedes, Ineos and Toto Wolff – to find a solution and get Hamilton’s name on a contract.
“It will be interesting to see if it doesn’t happen. If Hamilton decides he’s bigger than the wider picture of the financial challenges then he could end up walking away.
“But this doesn’t make that much difference to the job the team is doing.
“Hamilton is a great driver and not having him would be a big loss, but they just have to keep doing what they are doing and rely on Russell and Valtteri Bottas to do the job,” Anderson added.