Sports Mole rounds up all of the latest news regarding Formula 1 on Friday, January 29.
Friday morning's Formula 1 news roundup
Nikita Mazepin may not be able to race under the Russian flag in Formula 1 this year.
Recently, Nikolay Gryazin had to contest the Monte Carlo rally as a 'neutral athlete', following the world anti-doping agency's decision to ban Russia from international competition over a widespread cheating scheme.
Russian F1 pundit Alexey Popov thinks Haas rookie Mazepin may be similarly affected.
"There is a solution," the Match TV commentator said. "In many sports now they compete under the flag of the national federation - in this case, it would be the Russian Automobile Federation.
"As for the anthem, we'll see, but you'd have to be a strong optimist to imagine him winning at Haas in the first year. But the flag is everywhere - over the circuit, over the garages, on the overalls.
"It wouldn't be very pleasant to be deprived of that," Popov added.
There has also been speculation that Formula 1 will have to rename the Russian GP, instead calling it the Krasnodar or Sochi GP.
"The main factor here is that it is commercial," Popov insisted. "The contract was signed long before this story so there is no right to alter that now."
Toto Wolff has admitted that a new three-year contract is unlikely for Lewis Hamilton.
With the new season looming, it is now highly conspicuous that seven time world championship Hamilton is yet to sign a new deal for 2021.
"We're not far away," Mercedes team boss Wolff told the German broadcasters RTL and n-tv.
When asked what 'not far away' really means, he answered: "Soon is a flexible term. Soon."
Earlier, he had said the final deadline was pre-season testing in Bahrain, set to take place in March just before the first race of the season at the same Sakhir circuit.
"We know the deadline is the day we travel to Bahrain, but by then we will have everything done," said Wolff.
However, he played down the likelihood that Hamilton or Mercedes will agree to a full three-year term.
"I don't think so," said the Austrian. "We are discussing what the correct duration is so we have to keep our eyes open.
"Lewis is incredibly important, not only for our team but also the Mercedes brand. It's also a friendship. But the landscape is currently changing," Wolff explained.
He said the new rules for 2022 and the incoming budget cap are both "factors that naturally play a role in our discussions".
"We have a huge regulatory change next year, and the cost cap which of course as a big team affects us. And then it goes into the details.
"But we don't want to be put under pressure either," Wolff added. "It has to be a sensible agreement, and we are not far from that."
He denied that George Russell is being used as a bargaining chip in his talks with Hamilton.
"It is important to emphasise that," said Wolff. "We have too strong a relationship for that. It's just about making the best decision for Lewis and for the team.
"George Russell will play a role in our future lineup. He just has to have a little trust and patience. Today we are concentrating on our drivers Valtteri and Lewis, and for the future we will see."