"Curveballs" stalling Hamilton contract agreement

25/01/2021
NEWS STORY

Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff says that "curveballs" are the reason for the delay in agreeing a new contract with the German team.

Towards the end of last season it appeared a new deal was merely a matter of dotting some Is and crossing a few Ts. However, it soon became clear that there was a little more to it than met the eye and as time passed it was claimed that a deal might not be reached until just before pre-season testing.

While money is understood to be at the core of talks it is believed that there are other obstacles, mainly from Hamilton's side of the table.

Though much has been made of George Russell following his impressive performance in the Sakhir Grand Prix, the bottom line is that - seven titles aside - Hamilton is effectively the star of the show, and we're not just talking Mercedes.

"The lawyers are working hard," Wolff told Austrian broadcaster ORF. "We don't make life easy for them, of course, when we both argue over Zoom and keep sending curveballs to the lawyers.

"He's in America now and I'm here," he added, "at some point we will finalise it.

"It's how it is with negotiations," he insisted. "You always come from different corners, but that's quite normal. We have a really solid basis in our relationship. We have celebrated great successes together and want to continue doing so in the future. But sometimes you have to talk things out in detail, and that took, or still takes us, some time. But before Bahrain at the latest, you have to sign something at some point."

Referring to Russell, Wolff said: "We've never played the Russell card. He did incredibly well and will one day be in a top car, but our long-standing partnership is not at all about making any threatening gestures.

"We know we want to race together. And now we have to negotiate the contract."

The Austrian also revealed that he recently tested positive for COVID, which has further compromised talks with Hamilton as what was intended to be a short break in Austria saw him out of circulation for longer than anticipated as he had to isolate.

"We had planned to be here for a few days, and out of nowhere I got a positive corona test," he said. "Now we've just been here for ten days.

"But everything's fine. No symptoms, thank God. It could have gone badly, but we're out of quarantine."

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Published: 25/01/2021
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