Eddie Jordan believes Mercedes would be “deluded” if they thought the same level of success could be achieved by replacing Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes and Hamilton are embroiled in protracted negotiations over a new contract for the seven-time World Champion, with no deal having yet been announced less than six weeks before the start of pre-season testing.
Hamilton’s contract expired at the end of last year and while team principal Toto Wolff said this week he thought an agreement would be reached “soon”, he added: “Soon is a flexible term.”
Wolff also denied that Mercedes were using as a bargaining tool the presence of George Russell, who is waiting in the wings for a full-time opportunity after shining when he stood in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix in December when his fellow Briton had COVID-19.
Former team owner Jordan, who recently said that if he was in Mercedes’ position he would “show Hamilton the door” if he was driving too hard a bargain over his contract, nevertheless believes the constructors’ World Champions would be cutting off their nose to spite their face if they let him go.
“Mercedes are probably saying a lot of this is to do with the car and we’ve given him an outstanding chance to be World Champion because he has the best car. That’s not in dispute,” Jordan told the BBC.
“However, if they think they can replace Lewis Hamilton with another driver and have the same element of success then I think they are deluded.
“And one thing’s for sure – Mercedes and Wolff will not be easily deluded. He’s a very smart guy.
“He knows exactly the value of Lewis Hamilton and I think they will sit down and come to a good solution because the world of F1 needs Lewis Hamilton in it. He’s the jewel in the crown.”
Jordan also said it was “a problem” that an eighth consecutive World Championship for Mercedes in 2021 appears to be a foregone conclusion.
“The sport is in a difficult situation because nobody can put their finger on Mercedes,” added the Irishman. “They do it better than anyone else.
“Max Verstappen won the last race but that shouldn’t confuse people into thinking it will be much more open.
“Mercedes have the best people and the best engine, so how can they not win the Championship? That’s a problem for me.
“It’s difficult to find the right sponsorship and you’re just not going to compete with that.”