Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, isn’t up for letting the George Russell debut taint any negotiations with Lewis Hamilton. In fact, he’s very frank about the situation. Wolff says Russell’s performance last weekend won’t be a catalyst in the Hamilton contract negotiations.
“They are two different things. Lewis has been with the team eight years, we have had great success in the past. He’s a team member.
“And I said it already before we cannot have the events this weekend interfere or change any of our negotiations. I think that wouldn’t be fair against him.”
That’s the difference between Toto and me. Toto leads that team and has a terrific relationship with Lewis, I do not. My recent editorial was based on a very pragmatic view of the situation from a business perspective and did not take any relational nuance.
I’ve said many times before that I am not a fan of pragmatism. I prefer prudence over pragmatism. My editorial was an exercise in pure pragmatism and if F1 was as drenched in pragmatism as it tells the world it is, then my editorial would make sense to people like Toto and Mercedes. My editorial, however, would be viewed as off kilter to the team and Toto and for good reason, there are people involved and prudence is playing a part in the discussions with Lewis…and they should. He’s a big part of their success.
“I think Lewis Hamilton wins so much, and many titles, because he’s the best driver in the best car at the moment,” said Wolff.
“We are very humble about it, because it’s not a given that we provide him with the best car.
“That’s why we have a positive influence when the car works well to be part of his success, and we have a negative influence when our car doesn’t work.
“So it’s never a driver that makes all the difference and it’s never the car that makes all the difference, it’s the combination of the two. Lewis is still the benchmark, he’s the best driver out there.
“He has proven that with his multiple records. And we must not be carried away at this stage by a phenomenal drive from a new kid who has a bright future in F1.
“Lewis is still the benchmark.”
Toto is right, Lewis is the benchmark. He should be, he’s at the top of his game int eh best car in F1 history. This is more indicating of Valtteri Bottas than it is Lewis or anyone else. While I advocated moving on from Lewis and looking to the new technical regulation era and new drivers and saving $140M in the process, the lowest hanging suit would be benching Valtteri and moving George in for next season but perhaps that human element will prevent that too.
You see, I think F1 crows about its pragmatic DNA but in the end, there is room for more prudent, relational elements of the sport. Lewis is one of them, so is Valtteri and unfortunately George’s career as a Mercedes driver may be on hold until such time as F1 places pragmatism over personal.