Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has admitted that both he and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton are still throwing curve balls during their ongoing negotiations for the driver's contract extension.

Wolff also admitted that the negotiations have not been entirely smooth sailing. "The lawyers are working hard. We don't make life easy for them, of course, when we both argue over Zoom and keep sending curveballs to the lawyers," Wolff told the BBC.

The contract negotiations are now being done remotely, with Hamilton currently in America and Wolff in Austria. Towards the end of the 2020 season, the team had hoped the contract extension would be finalised during a three-week stretch of races in the Middle East. However, Hamilton contracted COVID-19, and the talks were put on hold.

Wolff admitted that he also tested positive for the disease earlier in January. He contracted the virus in Austria, but has assured that he remained asymptomatic and is now out of quarantine.

The Mercedes boss says that despite the hurdles, he is confident that an agreement will be reached before the pre-season testing in March. Wolff also put to bed all the speculations about George Russell, who took over from Hamilton when he was sidelined by the coronavirus for the Sakhir Grand Prix last season.

Many are speculating that Russel's stellar performance behind the wheel of Hamilton's car is being used as a card in the negotiations. F1 fans around the world are saying that Russell has shown that he can be as competitive as Hamilton for a very small fraction of the price. However, Wolff has denied that he has played the Russell card.

"He did incredibly well and will one day be in a top car, but our long-standing partnership (with Hamilton) is not at all about making any threatening gestures. We know we want to race together. And now we have to negotiate the contract," he said.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton tested positive for coronavirus just two days after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix Photo: POOL / HAMAD I MOHAMMED