Wolff: Russell performance won’t sway Hamilton contract talks
Toto Wolff says he won’t use George Russell’s strong showing at Sakhir as “bargaining power” to sway Mercedes’ contract talks with Lewis Hamilton.
Russell is on loan from Williams to fill in for Hamilton in Bahrain as the seven-time world champion remains in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
At the outset, the Briton made good use of his plum one-off drive, clocking in fastest in both free practice sessions on Friday.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes the young gun’s impressive display might well convince Mercedes to drive a harder bargain with Hamilton when the pair finalise their contract talks.
“I’m sure Toto’s looking to use it to perhaps negotiate Lewis’s contract in some way, shape or form,” said Horner, quoted by Motorsport.com.
But Wolff denied that Russell’s showing would have any bearing on Hamilton’s yet-to-be-signed contract.
“We’ve discussed having George in the car, we know what we have with Lewis, and we know what he has with the team,” Wolff said.
“Such a situation would never be utilised as some kind of bargaining power, neither by him nor by us. It could go in both directions, and I respect very much who he is, how he drives, and his records.
“Whatever happens this weekend or next has no influence on our talks.”
Read also: Wolff says ‘not great’ Hamilton struggling with COVID-19
Wolff said that Hamilton’s current predicament had “pushed back” negotiations over a new deal.
“The timeline is being pushed back until he recovers,” Wolff said. “We know that we need to get it done, pretty well aware both of us.
“The priority now is him getting back on his feet and being back negative, and then we will meet or Zoom in order to put pen to paper.”
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