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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff backed to use cunning tactic in Lewis Hamilton contract talks | F1 | Sport

Time is ticking for Mercedes to extend Lewis Hamilton’s contract as the seven-time world champion’s deal is due to expire at the end of the month. Both parties have publicly claimed that they are keen to get terms thrashed out.

But the longer the delay is the more uncertainty surrounds the deal.

Hamilton is expected to sign a new contract as he looks to break away from Michael Schumacher’s Drivers’ Championship record.

The Brit is not racing for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend because he has contracted the coronavirus.

Toto Wolff has offered Williams’ young star George Russell the opportunity to drive a Championship-winning car.

The 22-year-old will start on the front row alongside team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

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However, Wolff has responded to those claims by insisting he would never use such a boardroom tactic.

“We’ve discussed having George in the car, we know what we have with Lewis, and we know what he has with the team,” the Austrian 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.”

Wolff also explained that Russell will not be rivalling Bottas for the Mercedes seat.

“I don’t see any rivalry within our team, Valtteri is well-settled. There’s nothing to prove for him,” Wolff maintained.

“For George, it’s a little bit easier because there is no pressure at all, he has nothing to lose.

“If George does well it’s an indication that one day he’s going to be in a good car and hopefully race for victories and Championships but that is far away. He knows that. He just needs to deliver a solid job and not make any mistakes.

“There is no shoot-out. We have total trust in Valtteri and loyalty as we’ve always had and that is our position.

“We know that we [will] race next year with Lewis and Valtteri. Where we are in 2022 is all going to depend on where our own season in ’22 is going to go and not by George’s performance on an oval in Bahrain and in a season final in Abu Dhabi.”

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