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Toto Wolff insists he WOULDN’T tell Lewis Hamilton to move aside for George Russell if Mercedes

Toto Wolff insists he WOULDN’T tell Lewis Hamilton to move aside for George Russell if Mercedes



Toto Wolff insists he WOULDN'T tell Lewis Hamilton to move aside for George Russell if Mercedes

Before a question is even asked about the growing points difference between the two Mercedes drivers, Toto Wolff already knows what is coming. The team principal has already started shaking his head, ‘No,’ he says. ‘100 per cent no.’

He was asked whether there might come a time, if Mercedes do get back into this championship battle, where they choose to impose team orders on their drivers to try to help whichever one is ahead in the drivers’ championship – at the moment that is George Russell by 28 points.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Wolff insisted: ‘One hundred per cent we will allow them to race until a driver is mathematically out of contention, we’re not making such a call.’

Toto Wolff says he wouldn't tell Lewis Hamilton to move aside if Mercedes get into F1 title race

What if it were the other way around and it was seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ahead? ‘It makes no difference,’ Wolff remarked.

From the moment Mercedes’ car started bouncing up and down at the final pre-season test in Bahrain in March, the hatches have been firmly battened down at Brackley. It has been a chastening period for a team who have become accustomed to success.


However, Wolff is confident the team have turned the corner now with Russell finishing third in Barcelona last weekend, and Hamilton roared through the field from 19th to fifth. With what Wolff described as the ‘fastest car in the race’, the Austrian publicly declared his team were back in the title fight, having ruled them out a month ago.

The Mercedes team president claimed: ‘Absolutely I meant it. You know, ultimately I’m a pessimist by nature. For me the glass is half-empty, not half full. But [Barcelona] was the first time that I saw a performance of a car and driver like in the past years.

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‘When you look at Imola [last month, in what was the team’s nadir, with Hamilton eventually being lapped by race winner Max Verstappen] we got stuck in no man’s land, and we couldn’t overtake. In Spain Lewis was 30-odd seconds behind the last car in the field and he finished fourth [sic]. So that is a car that is capable of winning a race.’

Lewis Hamilton has struggled getting to grips with the new Mercedes vehicle in recent weeks

Hamilton's team-mate George Russell was more impressive during the Monaco practices


Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell was more impressive during the Monaco practices


It is unlikely to be this weekend if practice on Friday is anything to go by, with Hamilton complaining the porpoising was back to such an extent he needed ‘elbow pads in the cockpit’ and was ‘f—— losing his mind’.

Again, Wolff smiles. He had already flagged up that Monaco might not be the track where they end their barren spell.

The Mercedes boss admitted: ‘We might take one on the nose here. Finish 10th and 12th. But it’s not going to change my opinion that the car was quick in Barcelona and that is encouraging.’

Wolff is of the opinion that Hamilton will ‘never get over’ what happened in Abu Dhabi last season, when he had a record eighth world title snatched from his grasp in cruel fashion following a late safety car and a ‘freestyle’ reading of the rulebook.

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That experience probably contributed to Hamilton’s early season travails, as Wolff conceded: ‘You know, I had dinner yesterday with the coach of Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri and he started the conversation saying ‘None of us can believe what happened to you in Abu Dhabi!’ And we were like ‘Neither can we’. It is still so surreal. And that’s going to stay with Lewis forever. Because in effect he won an eighth world championship.

Hamilton recently claimed that there are '100 bumps on just one straight' at the Monaco track

Hamilton recently claimed that there are ‘100 bumps on just one straight’ at the Monaco track

‘Then he finds himself on the back foot. And most importantly the car is a b—h to drive. And Lewis is like ‘Four months ago I competed for the world championship in a car that was great. And suddenly the car is undrivable.’ And that also needs recalibration of your own expectations. But I think he has that now.’

What about Wolff’s motivation levels? In what was an extremely brave interview earlier this year, the Austrian admitted that he had suffered with depression at times in his life, racking up over 500 hours in therapy since 2004.


The Mercedes team principal gives an interesting response here, revealing for the first time that he is actively looking for someone to replace him as team principal.

‘I’m running at 100 per cent [motivation-wise],’ insists Wolff, who owns one third of Mercedes F1 and is contracted to stay on as team principal and chief executive until at least the end of next year.

‘I’m actually really well balanced when I have problems to solve. What’s not good for me is contentment. What’s not good is boredom. What’s not good is groundhog day. That’s when I get really bad.’

‘In 2020 I wasn’t good at all. I mean, Covid didn’t help. But it was important at that time to reflect, is this my niche? Is this what I want to continue to do to the end of my business life?

‘In the end, I came to the conclusion ‘I love this sport, I love the competition, I love the honesty of the stopwatch.

‘But this is my team. I’m a third shareholder. I don’t want to sell it. I want to run it in an executive function. Maybe I’ll find a team principal that is better than me.’

When asked if he had his eye on anyone, Wolff said: ‘I wish I would come across someone that would fit into the organisation. It’s not not necessarily whether I think someone is capable intellectually, or understanding the sport.


‘It also needs to be fitting into the group. Because if you’re parachuting someone in that isn’t respected in the group, he’s going to struggle. So far I haven’t found anybody.’

Credit: DailyMail,Reuters,CN,Getty Images

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