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Russell not a threatening tactic in Hamilton contract talks - Wolff

Russell not a threatening tactic in Hamilton contract talks - Wolff

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Russell not a threatening tactic in Hamilton contract talks - Wolff

Russell not a threatening tactic in Hamilton contract talks - Wolff

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has dismissed suggestions George Russell is being used as a threatening tactic in contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton.

With just under seven weeks to go before the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain in mid-March, Hamilton has yet to sign a new deal with Mercedes.

While it is widely expected the seven-time champion will eventually put pen to paper, Russell's stellar performance as stand-in for Covid-hit Hamilton in the Sakhir Grand Prix has led to claims he is being used as a bargaining tool.

Wolff, though, has categorically denied the rumours and insisted negotiations are ongoing and a deal will be signed in due course.

"We never played the Russell card," Wolff told Austrian broadcaster ORF's Sport am Sonntag show. "He’s sold himself incredibly well.

“One day he’ll be in a top car but our longstanding partnership is not about any threatening. We know we [Mercedes and Hamilton] want to race together and now we just have to negotiate.

“We’ll get the fountain pen out one day, but if we don’t see each other it’s difficult to sign something.”

With regard to the negotiations, Wolff has confirmed progress is being made but that middle ground has yet to be found.

“As is the case with negotiations, you come from different corners, but that’s quite normal," added Wolff.

“We have a solid basis in our relationship, we have enjoyed great success and we want to do that in the future.

"But sometimes you have to talk things out and that's taking us some time, it’s still going on, but before Bahrain, at the latest, we have to sign something.

“There is no deadline, the lawyers are working hard, of course. We don’t make life easy for them when we both argue over Zoom and keep sending curveballs to the lawyers.

"But he is now in the US and I’m here [in Kitzbuhel] and at some point, we will finalise it."

Jokingly, Wolff added: “As for a Plan B, yes, I’ve already threatened him that I’ll be the next in line to sit in the car.

"We just have to adapt the car, that’s the only problem, but jokes apart, it is only about time."

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