Lewis Hamilton has lost his bargaining power by delaying contract talks with Mercedes until he tied up his record-equalling seventh world championship.
That’s the view of ex-Formula One driver Chrisijan Albers, who believes fellow Brit George Russell has thrown his plans into disarray.
Hamilton is technically unemployed as it stands, with his contract expiring at Mercedes on December 31 of last year.
Both parties are expected to come to a deal, but with the new season just two months away, time is running out.
There is understood to still be differences on both the salary and the length of contract.
Hamilton, who could eclipse Michael Schumacher’s drivers’ championship record this season, is believed to be looking for £40million, while Mercedes bosses Daimler are looking to cut costs.
After winning the 2020 title, the 36-year-old, tested positive for coronavirus allowing Russell to step in for the final race of the campaign.
Russell put in an impressive performance in Sakhir and would have picked up his maiden win, if not for tyre and pit stop issues.
And Albers thinks Russell’s showing could make Mercedes think twice about forking out for Hamilton’s mega-money contract.
“How Hamilton played it… he has of course tried to get extra pay by postponing the contract and becoming World Champion,” Albers told De Telegraaf’s F1 podcast.
“However, he did not count on George Russell getting into the car.
“If he had decided to sign up four months ago, this situation would not have occurred.
Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes contract announcement could be delayed for 'a number of reasons'
“That is the risk he has taken by asking for extra salary.”
Albers added: “Explain that to the CEO of Daimler.
“Explain why Lewis Hamilton is so special when he sees a George Russell pushed into a cockpit that he doesn’t fit at all and yet… we all know he can race.
“That actually made Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius think: 'What’s going on here?'”
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