Wolff: important to calibrate Russell the right way
Less than two weeks after George Russell was announced as Mercedes driver alongside seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton for the 2022 season, the Formula 1 world continues to digest the prospect of the partnership.
Since Russell replaced the Covid-stricken Hamilton for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, and with the young Briton’s brilliant performance this weekend, the writing was on the wall with everyone convinced it was just it was a matter of time before young George was called up to the Mercedes factory team.
In fact, it was the worst-kept secret, the only thing delaying the announcement being the arrangement of a dignified exit for Mercedes incumbent Valtteri Bottas, who was out of contract at the end of 2021; which ultimately turned out to be a seat at Alfa Romeo.
While some expect fireworks between the new Mercedes couple for next season, in what could look like the tumultuous 2007 season at McLaren between rookie Hamilton and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, some consider the situation as a moment of “passing the baton”. between the old guard and the new one, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, apparently eager to have the latter.
At least that’s what one can read between the lines of what Wolff said to F1 official website as he discussed Russell’s integration into the team and the challenges ahead.
“He is [Russell has] proved that he deserves to have a place in a top car and now we have to adapt him properly to the Mercedes situation… there is a lot more pressure, he has an incredible teammate with the biggest records and there, it’s important that you condition it and calibrate it the right way, ”Wolff said.
“We have seen situations in the past where they have failed; Lewis was part of a group where I think the team didn’t quite understand how this could potentially play out. and I think we are maybe a little better prepared for this situation but nevertheless he has all the ambition to be a future world champion and Lewis too, to add another one, so it’s a question calibration, ”he explained, referring to the lessons learned from the bitter feud between Hamilton and his former teammate Nico Rosberg.
“I think you have to respect the other guy’s perspective and ambition as well,” Wolff said. “We’re not going to put a driver in the car who won’t have the ambition to do the best they can to kick his teammate as hard as he can, win races and championships so early. , and it is clear.
“So I can put myself in his point of view, so I try to discuss with him what it means for the dynamics of the team, what it could mean, how we have to keep the momentum in the team. . And he’s very smart, he understands that.
“I think we would be happy if we were in the top three in terms of the package of cars competing for wins,” he said of his expectations for the team’s 2022 campaign in light of the new aerodynamic regulations.
“It’s still our ambition, that we’re there for the long haul, that’s the winning recipe, and if we have a car that we can develop if we can go for the championship, then absolutely he has the same car. who has Lewis, he has the pace, in qualifying he is very, very fast, and I’m sure that will be fine, ”concluded the Team Principal.
Mercedes has completely dominated F1 since the start of the turbo-hybrid era, and it remains to be seen whether they will continue their dominance next year, or will they be busy putting out the internal fires between Hamilto and Russell?