Formula 1

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “I would see Lewis and George on a par in 2022”

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Credit: Daimler AG

After Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s successful first season as team-mates, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team Principal Toto Wolff discussed the importance of fostering a respectful, collaborative relationship between the highly-competitive drivers. 

Wolff spoke highly of Russell’s first season with the outfit, however conceded that his transition from the “difficult to drive” Williams Racing FW43 to a likewise tricky W13 gave him an advantage over Hamilton. 

“Lewis is the best driver of all time along with Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari days,” Wolff said, as quoted by PlanetF1, “I would see Lewis and George on a par in 2022.”

“George got out of a car that was certainly difficult to drive. He got into one that was certainly difficult to drive as well. Lewis went from a perfect car to the W13. So he had to adapt a lot. We had races where George was stronger and races where Lewis was stronger.”

Hamilton wasn’t able to claim the leading spot in the standings after his early-season woes with W13, with Russell finishing the season two spots ahead of him in the championship. How the drivers compared points-wise was not top of mind for Wolff, however, who focused solely on how the team could work together to return to the top step of the podium. 

“But it wasn’t about who scored more points and beat the other. It was about developing a car together that was capable of winning. Both have great respect for each other. And both recognise the other’s performance. That’s a good constellation.”

With two drivers competing at an equally high level, Wolff emphasized the importance of teammate dynamics, explaining that the expectations placed on drivers by team leadership has a significant impact on the relationship team-mates have– whether it be professional and respectful, or one of rivalry. 

“A good dynamic between the drivers also depends on what the management sets them, what framework conditions we set for them. And how the drivers interact with each other in terms of respect.

“I think we are in a good starting position because both drivers respect each other. Respect each other humanly.”

Having seen how quickly a relationship between drivers can disintegrate after Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s stint as team-mates, Wolff stated that a rivalry that poses harm to the team would be unacceptable. 

“We accept that there can be a rivalry between our drivers. But this rivalry must never degenerate into a conflict that could damage the team. I would never allow that. I have never allowed that either.”

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