Toto Wolff wants to see George Russell eliminate the mistakes if the Briton is to make the jump into the works Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in the future.
Russell, who will be racing for Williams Racing for the third consecutive campaign in 2021, has yet to score a point for the Grove-based outfit. His best result in both 2019 and 2020 was an eleventh-place finish.
The Briton should have broken his duck earlier in the year when, inexplicably, he crashed into the wall whilst behind the safety car at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari whilst running inside the top ten.
However, Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport and Team Principal of the Mercedes F1 Team, wants Russell to eliminate those kind of mistakes that have cost him points in the past if he wants to move up to the works team full-time in the future, perhaps as early as 2022.
“Winning Formula 1 championships is about making the least amount of mistakes. And that only comes with routine and experience,” said Wolff to Motorsport.com. “Mercedes expects these kind of sustainable performance levels. And that’s why you need to give young drivers time.
“Because as exuberant as they may be perceived after the performance that we’ve seen from George, at the same time, young drivers will be criticised, and criticised quickly, when they make mistakes in such a high-pressure environment like a top team.
“That’s why making experiences like in Imola, and the learnings from that, are very important to form a driver that can perform at a sustainable high level.”
Russell was given the opportunity in the Sakhir Grand Prix late in the year to run with the works Mercedes team in place of the ill Lewis Hamilton, and he scored his first points by finishing ninth and securing the fastest lap.
But for a failed Mercedes pit stop and a puncture, Russell could have scored a podium finish or even a win that day at the Bahrain International Circuit.
And Wolff says Russell’s performance during his one-off outing with Mercedes showed just why the German marque hold the Briton in such high esteem.
“We believed in George because there’s not many drivers out there that have won junior championships as rookies, especially not the very competitive GP3 and F2 championships,” said Wolff. “For us, [the Sakhir Grand Prix] was a possibility to confirm what we were thinking about George.
“It was unfortunate that this opportunity came with Lewis having been out. I would have wished it would have happened in a different way, but it gave us a set of data points to look at. And in a way it affirmed how we judged him.
“It was also an advantage for him and Williams. He was going to go back to his team with a lot of learning, with more understanding. And this is why I think for him personally and for Williams, it was advantageous.”