Wolff issues Hamilton backing

26 January 2021 21:09:53 GMTPlus10

Lewis Hamilton is still to sign a contract to race for the 2021 season but that has not stopped his Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff from defending the world champion after comments from Red Bull's Christian Horner.

Horner claimed recently that George Russell's strong performance when he filled in for the absent Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix "confirmed" that his driver, Max Verstappen, was the best in F1 as any substitute for the daredevil Dutchman would not get as close to his level of performance.

But Wolff, who said closing a new deal with seven-times world champion Hamilton should be finalised soon, has insisted no one could claim anyone is better than the British driver until they have raced in equal machinery.

Hamilton won 11 of the 17 races last season, taking his career tally to a record-breaking 95, and won the championship by 124 points, almost five race wins clear of the field.

Verstappen and Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas were the only other drivers to score multiple race wins in 2020 with two each, while Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly won once each.

Wolff told Austrian broadcaster ORF that he thought Horner had been teasing him with his comments.

"You can only judge the best drivers on the grid if you let them race against each other," he said.

"Christian can't stop teasing us, but that's just part of it. We haven't seen Lewis against Max yet. We haven't seen George against Lewis and we haven't seen Charles Leclerc in a top car.

"But the future is for the young drivers and at some point they will all race against each other with the same equipment and then we will see who is the best," said Wolff.

Pre-season testing begins in Bahrain on 12th March. Hamilton is 1.25 to win his eighth world title this year with Verstappen currently at 3.75.

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