Jan Lammers believes Mercedes will use George Russell's performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix as a negotiating tactic against Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time world champion has not signed a new contract despite Toto Wolff recently saying it "will not be long" until an announcement is made.
The 1988 Le Mans winner thinks money is the reason why a deal has not been agreed between Hamilton and Mercedes.
"It may just be that Hamilton overestimates his market value and underestimates the situation in the world," said Lammers to RacingNews365.com. "In the meantime, I think Mercedes is limited in what can be morally offered to Hamilton.
"After all, how can it be justified to the staff and management to continue to receive his millions of salaries, when elsewhere in the company people have to be laid off?"
Russell replaced Hamilton in Sakhir last December when the latter tested positive for coronavirus. A poorly-timed safety car when in the lead and a puncture prevented Russell from winning on his Mercedes debut. It was a drive Lammers believes, Mercedes did not see coming.
"I don't think Mercedes expected Russell to do so well (in Sakhir). But now that he did, it would be foolish of Mercedes not to use that against Hamilton in the contract negotiations," continued Lammers. "And we all know one thing for sure and that's that team boss Toto Wolff isn't stupid.
"With this kind of thing, you have to be careful not to go too far. What Hamilton doesn't seem to fully see, of course, is that there is a great opportunity for Mercedes. That company just wants to sell cars and the question is: what is worth more - another world title? That would be great, of course, but many people don't give one. Or do you score more from a loyalty point of view with a statement against Hamilton's multimillion-dollar salary?
"I personally believe that Mercedes has the opportunity to make a very powerful statement by stating that the loyalty lies are with the Mercedes customers and employees and not with one sportsman. I think that's been a bit underexposed.
"I think the chances of Mercedes succumbing to Hamilton are many times smaller than the other way around. You never know what powers are at play, but I don't think Mercedes are going to add water to the wine yet. If a deal is on the table, it is because an external party has come up with a solution."