THE No. 100 Steven Richards Motorsport BMW has been excluded from qualifying for the Bathurst 12 Hour, knocking it out of the Top 10 Shootout.
Philipp Eng, who will share the car with Richards and ex-F1 racer Timo Glock, qualified the car third fastest in the second qualifying session dedicated to Class A cars.
It was an impressive lap, Eng’s sole lap of the session putting him just two tenths shy of the fastest time and giving him a good starting position for the one-lap shootout for the top 10 grid positions.
However, stewards have confirmed that they have excluded the car from the qualifying results over an unspecified technical breach.
Although there were two qualifying sessions, and Eng had set a time in the first session that would still have been good enough for fourth fastest, the rules scrub all times set in the first session for the Class A cars.
That means the No. 100 BMW will start from the rear of the grid in Sunday’s race.
The exclusion elevates Supercars racer Cam Waters into the Top 10 Shootout, the Sandown 500 winner piloting the No. 55 Strakka Racing Mercedes.
However, there is a growing feeling that those negotiations had hit a snag and now Wolff has revealed he “argues’”with the world champion over Zoom, while his demands have held up the lawyers.
“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,” he said.
“But he’s in America now and I’m here in Austria. At some point we will finalise it. It’s how it is with negotiations.
“You always come from different corners, but that’s quite normal.
“We have a really solid basis in our relationship. We have celebrated great successes together and want to continue doing so in the future.
“But sometimes you have to talk things out in detail, and that took or still takes us some time. But before Bahrain at the latest, you have to sign something at some point.”
While Wolff is calm about the situation, the fact he is willing to wait until the season-opener in Bahrain on March 28th for Hamilton’s signature will raise more questions about their relationship and indeed the F1 star’s demands.
Sticking points could include Hamilton’s basic salary, image rights, bonuses and sponsorship and media days.
Some publications have guessed that Hamilton’s contract demands to include a share of the team’s prize money and a free limited edition Mercedes One hypercar – both are untrue according to the team.
However, it does raise serious questions as to how aligned the two parties are, despite Hamilton’s repeated claims where he expresses his loyalty to Mercedes.
Wolff however, has made it clear that he will not use George Russell’s position as a bargaining chip to get a better deal.
Russell was impressive when he filled in for COVID-struck Hamilton in the Sakhir GP and nearly won the race on his debut for the Silver Arrows.
Wolff added: “We never played the George Russell card. He did incredibly well and will one day be in a top car, but our long-standing partnership is not at all about making any threatening gestures.
“We know we want to race together. And now we have to negotiate the contract.”
Meanwhile, in the interview with Austrian TV station ORF, Wolff revealed that he too had been hit by COVID-19 and was forced to self-isolate for 10 days.
He said: “Out of nowhere I got a positive corona test. Now we’ve just been here for 10 days.
“But everything’s fine. No symptoms, thank God. It could have gone badly, but we’re out of quarantine.”
— This story originally appeared on thesun.co.uk and has been republished with permission
“It’s a real shame that the Australian Grand Prix has been disrupted again, but at least we’ve got another date this year, and of course I totally understand and agree with the reasons behind it being postponed,” the 31-year-old said last week.
“The safety of the fans, and everyone involved with the sport is the most important thing.
“But I am glad we’ve got another date later in the year and I think that’s cool.
“It’ll be approaching the Australian summer and I’ll have nearly a whole season under my belt with McLaren, so I think we’ll go there with some pretty good momentum and perhaps a bit more experience with the team.
“To be honest, I’m just excited about racing on home soil again.”