‘I’ve had much worse’ – Toto Wolff’s verdict on George Russell v Lewis Hamilton battle

Michelle Foster
George Russell closes in on Lewis Hamilton

George Russell beat Lewis Hamilton to the podium in Montreal

Watching his drivers fight over third place, Toto Wolff says he’s seen “much worse” than George Russell’s late-race battle with Lewis Hamilton in Montreal.

Starting from pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, costly errors meant Russell was running fifth behind his team-mate and Oscar Piastri heading into the final laps.

Toto Wolff weighs in on Mercedes’ late-race battle

But it was Russell’s turn to attack late on as he passed Piastri before closing in on Hamilton who was on hard tyres to Russell’s mediums.

“We are racing,” Russell was told over the radio. “Just remember, it goes without saying, keep it clean please.”

Squeezing down the inside of his Mercedes team-mate at Turn 14 on lap 68 of the 70-lap race, Russell said he knew that he could “trust” Hamilton in their battle.

But while it was undoubtedly a tense moment for the Mercedes pit wall, Wolff says he’s had “worse”.

Asked if it was too close, he told the media in Montreal: “No, I’ve had much worse.”

Wolff has not only had to watch on as Russell and Hamilton collided, most recently at 2023’s Japanese and Qatar Grands Prix, but he was also at the helm throughout the infamous Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg rivalry.

That rivalry saw Mercedes threaten to bench the feuding team-mates because of their repeated brawls with Wolff saying he needed an “iron fist” to manage it.

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Russell and Hamilton avoided drama in Canada to finish third and fourth, Mercedes’ first Grand Prix podium of this season and their best overall points tally.

“Since Imola we have taken the right steps and put parts on the car that [have worked] and that is something we have struggled with in the last couple of years,” Wolff said.

“Directionally we seem to be heading forward. We have new parts coming in Barcelona so I hope we can continue this positive trajectory.

“We have brought so many new parts that have contributed milliseconds to more performance. That was a huge effort from the factory. I think the wheel has started to get some real motion now.

“Bit by bit we have added more performance. Another step in Barcelona as we will see it on the stopwatch.”

He’s hoping this season produces more races where four teams – Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari – are in contention for the win.

“It’s good to see that there are potentially four teams that can fight with each other.

“I don’t think we are yet completely there on merit that we can win. But definitely a step closer.

“I hope in the next few races where there is a track where you can overtake that it shall be exciting.”

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