The past few months have seen no interaction between seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and his potential replacement, George Russell.
At least this is what Russell claimed when he said that Hamilton is yet to speak with him since he deputised for the 36-year-old in the Sakhir Grand Prix last year.
Hamilton was out due to the coronavirus, which handed Russell the opportunity to feature for Mercedes in Bahrain.
It was perhaps the turning point in Russell’s career. The young Brit was able to outpace teammate Valtteri Bottas by over 0.2 seconds. A series of events on race day meant that Russell was not able to win the race, but he seemed at home in a Mercedes car.
It fuelled plenty of speculation over him joining the Silver Arrows soon enough. Such things are bound to happen, you’d think. Hamilton is not getting any older and has often stated that he can see a future away from the sport.
It is perhaps still surprising, though, that the two have not spoken at all since this event.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that such rivalry and competition is far from his concerns.
“I’m hearing this for the first time. But the condition of my pilots is the least of my worries. But I can imagine that because the competition between the two is very strong,” he told Sport24.
Wolff went on to claim that Russell is a bright prospect for the future.
“The big ones feel when a good guy is coming,” he said.
“And George is the next generation.”
A conspiracy theorist might look at the Bahrain Grand Prix as a defining moment in Mercedes’ relationship with Hamilton. The British driver was only offered a one-year contract, which was a first for Mercedes in its dealings with Hamilton.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Mercedes can now picture Russell succeeding at their team. He has, after all, been praised countless times by the Mercedes staff, with one engineer claiming that they are keeping a close eye on him.