Mercedes cannot expect to replace Lewis Hamilton and enjoy the same amount of success according to former team owner and TV pundit Eddie Jordan, amid speculation George Russell could step in if the team don’t meet Hamilton’s salary demands.
Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Hamilton has yet to agree a new contract with Mercedes, which with just six weeks until pre-season testing in Bahrain, is causing plenty of speculation as to the reasons behind the delay.
Team boss Toto Wolff insists discussions are ongoing and that there are no major hurdles holding a deal up, but that hasn’t stopped rumours that the Briton is demanding an eye-watering salary and possibly additional bonuses related to his and the team’s success.
Earlier this month Jordan said he’d kick Hamilton out of the team if his salary demand rumours were true, insisting everyone is “replaceable”.
However Jordan has somewhat backtracked and although he doesn’t disagree that drivers are replaceable, he admitted a driver of Hamilton’s calibre does add another level and says Mercedes would be “deluded” to think they could enjoy the same level of domination without the 36-year-old at the helm.
“Lewis Hamilton is the jewel in the crown,” he told the BBC. “He’s the one every TV station wants to interview.
“Mercedes are probably saying a lot of this is to do with the car and we’ve given him an outstanding chance to be world champion because he has the best car. That’s not in dispute.
“However, if they think they can replace Lewis Hamilton with another driver and have the same element of success then I think they are deluded.
“And one thing’s for sure Mercedes and Toto Wolf will not be easily deluded. He’s a very smart guy. He knows exactly the value of Lewis Hamilton and I think they will sit down and come to a good solution because the world of F1 needs Lewis Hamilton in it.”