The long-running contract saga between Mercedes and seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton continues to rumble on.
With just two months to go until the start of the new F1 season, Hamilton has yet to sign a new deal with Mercedes for the upcoming campaign - and it now appears that fans want the team to end their pursuit of the Brit.
Hamilton - who turned 36 years old earlier this month - is continuing to hold out for his desired terms before putting pen-to-paper on a fresh agreement. His previous contract expired at the end of 2020 and he will seemingly not extend his relationship with Mercedes unless a fairly substantial list of demands is met.
Most recently, reports have emerged that Hamilton is now seeking a 10% cut of the television rights revenue that Mercedes receive each year. This would be in addition to his salary of around £40 million, as well as a host of other perks and benefits.
As the clock winds down towards the start of the new F1 season in Bahrain on March 28, even team principal Toto Wolff has admitted the negotiations have begun to get even more intense.
One of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport, Hamilton's leverage in these talks is clear to see. However, the Silver Arrows do have another option should they fail in their quest to secure his services once again.
Hamilton's countryman George Russell has first-hand experience of driving the Mercedes car having filled in for him at last year's Sakhir Grand Prix. Russell landed the opportunity to compete after Hamilton was forced to self isolate due to COVID-19 - and the 22-year-old took his chance to impress.
In fact, had it not been for a late tyre issue that forced an unscheduled pit stop, Russell would likely have gone on to claim victory for Mercedes.
Now, a poll conducted by Formula1News.co.uk has revealed that 84% of those asked would like to see Russell brought in to replace Hamilton on a permanent basis.
While Russell is currently under contract to Williams for 2021, Mercedes are reportedly confident that a late deal could be done to bring him back to the team for this campaign, particularly as they act as his agent.
Toto Wolff has repeatedly denied having played "the George Russell card" when asked about that possibility in interviews, however, for every day that passes without Hamilton signing a new deal, those fans who want to see Russell in a Mercedes this season surely get closer to their wish.News Now - Sport News