Wolff expecting Russell to cut down on mistakes

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Toto Wolff says the next area of personal development for Mercedes protégé George Russell will be the Briton's ability to cut down on mistakes.

Russell has an open path to a race seat with Mercedes for 2022, particularly after his brilliant one-off display with the German outfit last year at Sakhir as Lewis Hamilton's substitute.

However, while Russell's speed is unquestionable, Wolff believes the 22-year-old remains a work in progress, a talent that still needs to iron out errors such as the costly blunder that occurred last year at Imola, when the Williams driver crashed behind the safety car.

"Winning Formula 1 championships is about making the least amount of mistakes. And that only comes with routine and experience," Wolff told 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 [at the Sakhir GP] 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."

Wolff says that Mercedes had little doubts about its support of Russell before his spectacular one-off with the Brackley squad in Bahrain. And the latter evidently provided additional confirmation that it was backing the right young thoroughbred.

"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 the Austrian.

"For us, [using him as replacement for Hamilton] 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."

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