Site logo

Timing of Russell's Mercedes debut "horrible" for Hamilton's contract talks

NEWS STORY
02/01/2021

Mark Webber says the timing of George Russell's debut for Mercedes couldn't have come at a worse time for Lewis Hamilton as his contract negotiations continue.

With Hamilton testing positive for COVID, Mercedes had to call on the services of its protege, and Williams driver, George Russell for the penultimate round of the season, the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Despite having had no previous time in the car, the Briton did admirably, setting the pace in both Friday sessions, missing out on pole to his teammate by just 0.026s and leading the majority of the race.

However, a botched pit stop and a subsequent puncture destroyed any hope of the youngster making a fairy-tale debut for the German team, which must, under the circumstances have breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Russell's debut for Mercedes came at a time when most were arguing that Hamilton should be recognised as the sport's greatest driver of all time, a claim that might have taken a severe knock has his 'stand-in' won first time out in the same car.

While the debate has since gone quiet, Hamilton returning for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Mark Webber claims that as the seven-time world champion negotiates a new contract, Russell's performance couldn't have come at a worse time.

"The timing for Lewis was just horrible," the Australian, an F1 winner and WEC champion, tells the At The Controls podcast. "I drove one thousand days in an F1 car with testing and practice and Grands Prix weekends.

"The whole thing put together over twelve years, if you look at how many actual physical days in the car, I think I had three days off, that's because I didn't want anyone near my car.

"You're just trying to look out for your own share price," he admits. "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.

"George drove well," he adds. "Yes, it was the easiest track in the world, it wasn't exactly Suzuka. But he still drove brilliantly in a compromised environment in the car."

As Toto Wolff admits that a new deal might not be agreed until just before pre-season testing gets underway, Webber believes Russell's performance combined with the impending budget cap and the on-going fears over the damage to the sport's finances inflicted by the pandemic, will compromise Hamilton's bargaining position.

"Obviously he and Toto enjoy a very good relationship," he says. "I think that they would have liked it to have been nipped in the bud by now. But obviously the timing around certain things, particularly his virus right at the end and this budget cap for drivers, 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 extinguish 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."

Indeed, we hear that Hamilton's belief that he is "box office" goes far, far beyond the Mercedes team.

LATEST NEWS

more news >

RELATED ARTICLES

LATEST IMAGES

galleries >

  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images

POST A COMMENT

or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment

READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/01/2021 14:14

"Hoping Lewis will be driving for Mercedes this year. Why would Mercedes drop him now, & why would he try to extract more than they want to pay? I'm guessing his other sponsorships will pay at least as much as his Driver's salary.

While many are convinced MB will run away with the season again, there is always a possibility that someone else will fins some 'secret sauce'. Surely that's why we all watch F1?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 04/01/2021 18:17

"@flyinglap. Such was Ferrari's influence back then and their desperation to win championships having plowed so much cash in at that stage that, had Salo gone for the win, I'd say he would not have had a career in F1 after that and may have struggled to find a role in other series.
He would have been known as the guy that cost Irvine the championship.

Back to Merc's drivers.

As long as Hamilton is still keen then he'll stick around."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by flyinglap, 04/01/2021 15:25

"Referring to FormulaRace's previous comment, the Ferrari team orders under Todt/Brawn cruelly deprived Mika Salo of his maiden Formula 1 victory in Hockenheim. Indeed, I have always wondered how different Salo's career (and life) might have been had he disobeyed that order. I do not know what kind of contract he had signed beforehand in order to stand in for Schumacher, and what would have been the actual consequences had he not obeyed the team oders, but I would rather be a Formula 1 race winner even if I never raced again in Formula 1 rather than be a mere ex Formula 1 driver with no wins to my name but with the consolation of a post-racing career in the orbit of Ferrari and/or the FIA. Obviously, when you are driving the car you do not have the benefit of hindsight but I would presume that if you have the opportunity to score a more than deserved victory (especially your first) you must take that chance, no matter what the consequences. "

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by TSGoodchild, 04/01/2021 15:07

"I find it hilarious that all the talk is to replace Lewis. Who in their right mind would replace a 7x WC on top of their game, when there is a weaker link already in the lineup by the name of Bottas? Surely a Russell/Hamilton lineup is far more exciting than Russell/Bottas?! "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by TSGoodchild, 04/01/2021 15:05

"@nnails - I simply google search tells you that in 2018 Mercedes makes $58m PROFIT every 48 hours. I'm sure they will find the cash. "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by kenji, 04/01/2021 0:22

"All of the 'hoopla' surrounding this issue is basically a mix of presumed fact combined with a large dose of fiction, IMO. I'm pretty sure that the facts are largely unknown and the media are concocting more of an issue than is really the case. Speculation is running wild. This is all good for the Hamilton camp who are milking it for publicity purposes. What better way to keep Hamilton's name up front as there are a further 75 days to go before the season actually starts. Both sides are winners here. Mercedes get to be seen as responsible managers, keeping costs down in a time when staff are being laid off with virus controls. Sales are also down. Hamilton gains as he is seen to be making a case for an improved salary package commensurate with his latest WDC tally. To deny him this could be construed as being against his 'newly found activism'. Quite frankly there are more interesting issues to contemplate as i'm resigned to the fact that Mercedes are going to run away with the titles next year irrespective of who drives the car."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by Superbird70, 03/01/2021 21:50

"@nnnails, I thought so too until I checked the numbers for Canada. S-Class sales for the year 449. About half of what sold in 2019. @ about $100K per unit that's $44.9M CDN. I don't know the profit per unit but Canada is a small market. It looks like Mercedes just realized that they can just bargain a little harder. I wonder who is behind Russell at the Mercedes academy. "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by #KLMN#, 03/01/2021 11:01

"Lewis the F1 Mesias will survive it all and his record will never be beaten "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by nnails, 03/01/2021 7:58

"You got to sell a lot of extra cars to make paying him 50 million worth it"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by FormulaRace, 03/01/2021 0:26

"Russell beating Bottas in Bahrain devalues Hamilton's achievements about as much as Salo "beating" Irvine at Hockenheim devalues Schumacher's"

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by jcr, 02/01/2021 15:26

"At last, Someone tells it as it is.
Rock on George !!"

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

12. Posted by Superbird70, 02/01/2021 14:35

"C'est la vie, c'est la guerre, c'est la pomme de terre. Lewis will survive.
"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

13. Posted by Roli, 02/01/2021 14:27

"My thought now are that Lewis has nothing more to prove. He hangs his helmet up and enjoys his Knighthood and does good in the world. As far as Russell is concerned, yes, he was in the best car but perhaps he has shown the world that he has the potential of being a future champion. "

Rating: Positive (9)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page

X

Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2021. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms