Lewis Hamilton contract: Toto Wolff’s George Russell comments point to Mercedes decision

Lewis Hamilton compared to Schumacher by David Coulthard

Lewis Hamilton is still in talks over a new contract at Mercedes for the 2021 F1 season. The Brit became a seven-time world champion last year matching the great Michael Schumacher and earning himself a knighthood in the process.

The 36-year-old is expected to eventually agree terms with the Silver Arrows despite lengthy negotiations.

There are thought to be disagreements over the length and the value of the contract although Express Sport understands Mercedes remain confident of a deal being struck.

Hamilton will look to beat Schumacher’s record if he stays and set a new total of eight championships.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has seemingly already dropped a hint they are desperate for Hamilton to stay.

He spoke about George Russell and how he would need to cut out some mistakes before making it to the top of F1.

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The 22-year-old impressed when he stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix after the world champion tested positive for coronavirus.

But Wolff has seemingly indicated Hamilton will stay at Mercedes with his advice to Russell.

He told Motorsport.com: “Winning Formula One championships is about making the least amount of mistakes. And that only comes with routine and experience.

“Mercedes expects these kind of sustainable performance levels. And that’s why you need to give young drivers time.

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“Because as exuberant as they may be perceived after the performance that we’ve seen [at the Sakhir GP] from George, at the same time, young drivers will be criticised, and criticised quickly, when they make mistakes in such a high pressure environment like a top team.

“That’s why making experiences like in Imola, and the learnings from that, are very important to form a driver that can perform at a sustainable high level.

“We believed in George because there’s not many drivers out there that have won junior championships as rookies, especially not the very competitive GP3 and F2 championships.

“For us, [using him as replacement for Hamilton] was a possibility to confirm what we were thinking about George. It was unfortunate that this opportunity came with Lewis having been out.

“I would have wished it would have happened in a different way, but it gave us a set of data points to look at. And in a way it affirmed how we judged him.

“It was also an advantage for him and Williams. He was going to go back to his team with a lot of learning, with more understanding. And this is why I think for him personally and for Williams, it was advantageous.”

Russell is in line to be in a Mercedes seat for 2022 with Valtteri Bottas out of contract and hinting he could take on a new challenge.

The new F1 season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 28.

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