Toto Wolff’s Lewis Hamilton reference on Max Verstappen, George Russell shunt

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, George Russell, Mercedes, side-by-side. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull and George Russell, Mercedes, racing side-by-side. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Max Verstappen races Lewis Hamilton differently, but that the hard racing with George Russell in Baku was typical of the “same generation drivers”.

Russell and Verstappen came to blows on the opening lap of the Baku sprint, the pair making contact at Turn 2 as Russell tried to force his way past the Red Bull driver.

A fresh attempt arrived at the following corner, Russell this time coming through, though Verstappen was left further enraged having felt that the Mercedes driver ran him far too close to the wall, these ever-present and a great source of jeopardy around the Baku street circuit.

Verstappen and Russell represent a group of young stars whom many believe will shape the battle at the front of Formula 1 for years to come, Verstappen already a two-time World Champion, and Mercedes boss Wolff was asked after that sprint incident whether he feels Verstappen races the Mercedes drivers differently to those with other teams.

Wolff feels that is the case when it comes to Hamilton, Mercedes’ seven-time World Champion and title rival to Verstappen in 2021 when the pair were no strangers to colliding, though he feels the stern wheel-to-wheel combat with Russell is the kind of style which Verstappen and Russell were using in competition long before their F1 days.

“I think Max races Lewis differently. But, between the same generation drivers, they’re all fierce,” said Wolff, as per “But it’s always been (like this), they know each other.

“They had that situation, probably the first time, when they were 10. So, it’s racing. I don’t know if it’s 70/30, 60/40 or 50/50, but it’s going to be in that ballpark.” recommends

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Verstappen and Russell would engage in some verbal conflict after the conclusion of the Baku sprint, Verstappen even calling the Brit a “d**khead” as he walked away from the irate Dutchman.

Wolff though can understand why the Russell incident left Verstappen feeling a sense of frustration, the Dutchman picking up heavy damage to the left sidepod of his RB19 as he drove on to a P3 finish.

“First of all, friendly exchanges between drivers is a good entertainment factor,” said Wolff. “So irrelevant.

“And yeah, that’s a race situation. You’re trying the outside, that’s never going to be an easy position. It’s absolutely understandable that he’s upset on the other side.

“George defended the position, and that’s also clear that they’re going to do that. So it’s not the first time I guess they had the situation between each other.”

Verstappen’s Championship lead is now down from 15 points to 13 after Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez claimed victory in the Baku sprint, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc splitting the Red Bull pair.