Wolff: Russell’s approach more ‘intellectual’ than Max

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen gestures to George Russell during the Bahrain testing press conference. Bahrain March 2022

Max Verstappen gestures to George Russell during their shared press conference at the Bahrain test event. Bahrain March 2022

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he believes George Russell’s racing approach is more “intellectual” than Max Verstappen’s.

The Dutchman’s driving style has been described as aggressive and there were flashpoints during last season when he and Lewis Hamilton crashed, most notably at Silverstone and Monza.

Wolff himself has been a critic of the Red Bull driver and following the crash at Silverstone, in which Hamilton was adjudged to have been at fault having collided with Verstappen’s rear wheel and sent him on a 51g-impact with the barrier, the Austrian said he had “no remorse” over the incident.

“There wasn’t a lot of feeling of remorse on our side,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“Lewis has given up corners much more often before where he shouldn’t have.”

Hamilton himself commented on Verstappen’s style after the crash and said “I just don’t feel he needs to be as aggressive as he is.”

Now Wolff has compared Verstappen’s style to new Mercedes driver George Russell and said he believes the Brit’s approach is more “intellectual.”

“I think Max’s approach – and this is George’s phrase since he was in go-karting – is ‘win it or bin it’,” Wolff told GQ.

“George approaches it more from an intellectual standpoint, while having all the skills.”

The battle between Hamilton and Russell is one of the most intriguing stories of this season and Wolff said it would be impossible to change Russell’s mindset at this stage in his career.

“You can’t tell a man that has been in a go-kart from the age of six, having been sent out in the rain alone, that ‘now you’re a part of the team, you need to drive for the team’,” he said.

“It’s ingrained in them to be alone out there – to be opportunistic.”

Russell has also said he is prepared to battle Hamilton should it be the two Mercedes cars fighting for the Drivers’ Championship.


“In an ideal world, we just want to be battling one another,” Russell said.

“We don’t want to be battling with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris. So we need to work together and push each other to be able to achieve that.”

“I want to win… obviously. I want to win today. But you give me the choice of winning today and having an average future, or learning today and then 10 years of success – it’s an easy choice.”