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Russell has "lots to learn", says Wolff

NEWS STORY
19/04/2021

For George Russell it appears almost to be a case of 'hero to zero', in the opinion of Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff.

Only a couple of months ago, George Russell was being touted as Lewis Hamilton's teammate or even his replacement following his impressive drive in the Sakhir Grand Prix when standing in for the world champion.

Narrowly missing out on pole, it was a combination of bad luck and poor strategy that robbed the 2018 F2 champion of a famous victory.

Indeed, such was Russell's performance, some claimed it cast doubt on Hamilton's 'greatest of all time' claim, while it was speculated that Mercedes would use the Briton's performance, and his obvious potential, when negotiating a new deal with the seven-time champ.

However, in the wake of Sunday's clash with Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff was less than impressed.

"There is never such a situation in life where one is one hundred percent to blame and the other zero," said the Austrian. "The whole situation should have never happened.

"Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps and should have never been in that position," he admitted, "but George should never have launched into this manoeuvre considering that the track was drying up. It meant taking risk and the other car in front of him was Mercedes.

"Any driver development, any young driver, must never lose this global perspective," he added. "Lots to learn for him I guess.

"You need to see that there is a Mercedes and it's wet, so there is a certain risk to overtake and the odds are against him anyway when the track is drying up.

"I don't want him to try to prove anything to us," he insisted, "because one thing I can say, knowing Valtteri for five years, is that he is not trying to prove anything."

While both drivers blamed the other, the Imola stewards declared the clash to be a "racing incident" and opted to take no further action.

In the aftermath of the clash, Russell walked over to Bottas' stricken car and remonstrated with the Finn. In a subsequent interview the Briton suggested that the Mercedes driver might have acted differently if racing another driver.

"It begs the question why he would do that for P9," he told Sky Sports. "Perhaps if it was another driver, he wouldn't have. So that's what went through my mind."

"That's BS," said Wolff, when told of Russell's comment. "The whole situation is absolutely not amusing for us, to be honest."

As tempers slowly began to calm, Russell spoke to Mercedes and though he has yet to talk to Bottas since their initial 'discussion' he hopes to in the days ahead.

"It's not going to harm my relationship with Mercedes at all," he said, "I've already spoken with them, and there's understanding from both sides.

"I'm sure from my side when you're looking forward you're not really taking into consideration what car it is," he continued. "At the end of the day the move was absolutely on, we were only three-quarters of the way down the straight and that would have been a clear, easy simple overtake had it not been a little bit damp at that point.

"The point I pulled out it wasn't damp, the track was going left, I was squeezed slightly to the right, and that's where the dampness was.

"Should I have reacted how I did afterwards in the heat of the moment? Probably not no, but the emotions are incredibly high. We exchanged words and that's it."

However, for Mercedes, the clash is about more than lost points for Bottas and angry words.

"Our car is a write-off," said Wolff, "and in a cost-cap environment that is certainly not what we needed, because it's probably going to limit the upgrades that we are able to do.

"Simply the fact that we ended there by losing it on the wet, because there was no contact before that, it was losing it on the wet, making both cars crash out is not what I expect to see.

"We are very stretched under the cost cap, and what we always feared was a total write-off of a car. This one is not going to be a total write-off but almost and that is not something that we wanted."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Imola, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by SexyLadyRacer, 21/04/2021 5:17

"To all the George Russell brigade: I TOLD YOU SO!
I told you all that Russell keeps making mistakes, and on a regular basis!
Russell still has a lot lot to learn before he will be given the top team, let alone the Mercedes team now!

Russell is totally at fault for his collision with Bottas! Looking at Anthony Davidson's it can be seen that Bottas and all the other drivers were simply driving on that single dry line which runs from the left side to the right side and then turns left! And Russell was not even beside the Mercedes when Bottas was already going onto the right side of the track, and I believe it is at this point that Bottas first saw Russell about to crash into him!

Toto is quite rightly angry and annoyed at Russell at the moment, but all will be forgotten by the end of the season and Russell will be signed up to replace Bottas for 2022 alongside Lewis Hamilton!
Valtteri Bottas' performance this season so far has not been good enough, and he seems to be cracking under the strain of competing against Hamilton! "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by kenji, 20/04/2021 1:00

"Having waited for 24hrs to see what additional data emerges from the woodwork I believe that it's proved that the arrogance of Mercedes, repped by none other than Wolff, and it shows just how manipulative they actually are. Mercedes are rattled and are starting to fray at the edges...ever so slightly. For Wolff to publically admonish Russell for having the temerity to put a pass on his own factory driver because of the Mercedes connection surely is proof of attempted 'race fixing'. Williams are an independent team...ATM. To suggest that one of their contracted drivers should not attempt to race the 'other' team because of driver a management contract, I would've thought is legally questionable? The plain fact that Wolff feels as though he can state this in public just shows how much influence he wields..feeding his arrogance. Where is the FIA in all of this?

As for who is responsible for the incident I would perhaps side with the stewards in this. Too many variables."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by ToeKnee, 19/04/2021 22:19

"Like you didn’t like the arrogant pricks from Mercedes before reading that indeed Wolf is an arrogant prick. Next race everyone will pull over for Mercedes like a funeral procession. Pay respect to God Mercedes"

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 19/04/2021 16:02

"@Lapps - and this is also why when somebody says Lewis is only winning because he's in a Mercedes I just point to Bottas and ask why he isn't right up at the front with Lewis if it's so easy in that car to win.

I'll be more than a little surprised if Bottas is retained again for 2022. Not because of this crash, but because his overall performance isn't even up to previous seasons. Before he could more or less be counted on to be close enough to Lewis to assist with strategy. So far this year, not so much."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Editor, 19/04/2021 15:26

"@ Superbird70

Re: Where is Aston Martin in the pecking order?

Considering legal action"

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6. Posted by Piston Broke, 19/04/2021 15:23

"Roos Brawn puts the blame at Botta's door- rightfully so."

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7. Posted by Superbird70, 19/04/2021 14:15

"I always thought teams orders were within a team as opposed to between teams. Where is Aston Martin in the pecking order?"

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8. Posted by Lapps, 19/04/2021 12:52

"The real story here is not the crash (easy enough in those conditions). The real story is that it occurred while a Williams was passing a Mercedes ON MERIT! Any comment on that Toto?
"

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9. Posted by West York, 19/04/2021 11:19

"Russell, shows he has one more quality of being a top driver, i.e. knowing that when you disastrously screw up your overtaking move, you then blame the driver you wiped out, and distract the blame from yourself."

Rating: Negative (-3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by Carsten B, 19/04/2021 10:28

"As both flyinglap and Simon said, the fact that the car in front of Russell is a Mercedes should not mean that he should take special care. Russell is a Williams driver and need to maximize the result for them.

I put more than 50% of the lame on Russell however, Bottas left more than one width of car alongside, and followed the drying line of the race line. Russell got spooked (and understandably so) seeing the car of Bottas coming towards him while both doing around 300 kmh.

Can agree to the stewards verdict of racing incident, but if I HAD to assign culpability it would fall on Russell.

Bottas had, until the crash, a completely underwhelming weekend though."

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11. Posted by Piston Broke, 19/04/2021 10:24

"The arrogance is beyond me Toto."

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12. Posted by Editor, 19/04/2021 7:38

"@ flyinglap

Sadly, that's what happens when individuals are allowed to have their fingers in several different pies... it leads to a conflict of interest."

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13. Posted by flyinglap, 19/04/2021 7:32

"Quite cynical on behalf of Toto Wolff, the great puppeteer, to declare that Russell should not have attacked considering that the car in front was a Mercedes (the "global perspective"). Indeed, for the time being Russell drives for Williams! The fact is that Bottas didn't make it easy for him by masterfully going straight and ever slightly crossing the middle white line to the right and unfortunately for him too, Russell's Williams snapped onto his Mercedes instead of simply going out into the scenery as it was intended, probably. Drivers should be reminded that Imola is not your usual modern track, this place is known to bite, for objective reasons.Thankfully no one was hurt this time, but it may not be so in the future. Live to fight another day.."

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14. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 19/04/2021 7:23

"I'm sorry, is Toto suggesting that if the car in front is a Mercedes then because George is a Mercedes driver that he is not allowed to pas it ????

Toto, may I make a suggestion - why not replace Bottas with Russell, or does Hamilton have a veto?"

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