Wolff praises how well Russell has settled in at Mercedes

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on the drivers parade. 08.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race
© XPB 

One of the major concerns that Mercedes principal Toto Wolff had on his mind at the start of the year was how well George Russell would settle into his new role with the team after taking over from Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas had got on very well with team mate Lewis Hamilton and played a major role in supporting the Briton's run of four consecutive world championship titles.

That was in stark contrast to Hamilton's previous acrimonious and dysfunctional partnership with Nico Rosberg, who managed to pip Hamilton to the 2016 title only to retire from Formula 1 five days later.

The last thing Wolff wanted to see a return to a state of hostilities this season, especially with the team struggling to rediscover its form after off-season technical rule changes left it well off the pace of its Red Bull and Ferrari rivals.

While that still remains very much a serious headache for everyone at Brackley, one of the things that Wolff definitely doesn't have to worry about at the moment is how Russell is settling into the team and how he's getting on with Hamilton.

"He's integrated very well, it's almost like he's been here forever," Wolff said of the 24-year-old, who was formerly a long-time Mercedes junior while racing for Williams.

"I'm really happy about the two of them, how they interact, how respectful they are with each other," Wolff added.

Russell has been careful to say the right things about his team leader and not set up any early clashes. But the two did spar on track for the first time in the closing laps of the Miami Grand Prix - a battle that Russell won thanks to fresher tyres.

But Wolff insisted he had no complaints about the way that either driver had conducted themselves in the race.

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director. 05.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami

"I think this is how teammates should race each other," he said after the race. "Even the situation where they race each other, and it's getting a bit, you know, 'I'm not giving you room, okay I'm going to find another way, then give the position back'.

"That's okay. I'm happy with how he's settled in."

Coming into the season, many pundits feared that Russell would be swept aside by the pressure of being Hamilton's team mate. But as it's turned out, Russell seems to be coming out on top and able to get more out of the troubled W13 than a frustrated Hamilton.

That's possibly as a result of years of having to squeeze every last bit of performance out of the back-row Williams, with Russell frequently out-performing the car in qualifying and race trim.

"We knew that he was very good," Wolff said of the former Formula 2 and GP3 champion. "Then obviously the Williams school added its part, so we were never in any doubt that he would be very good.

"You can see that it's materialising on the track," he continued. "He's very rational. Whether he's fastest in P2, or whether he's eleventh, it’s just about applying the science and trying to make the car faster.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. 08.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami

"I like his approach very much," Wolff said, adding that Russell was proving to be a good complement to Hamilton. "I enjoy seeing them working together, the level is high from both of them.

"And that has put us in a decent situation in the constructors’ championship, so I couldn't wish for any better pairing."

Despite the team's problems with 'porpoising' affecting its straight line speed and handling, Mercedes is still in a solid third place in the constructors standings.

And in the drivers championship, Russell is currently ahead of Hamilton in fourth place with a total of 59 points after finishing all five races so far this season in the top ten.

Hamilton meanwhile is in P6 on 36 points, having missed the points in an especially disappointing outing at Imola which saw him stuck in a DRS train of cars for much of the race.

Hamilton went on to finish the Emilia Romagna GP in 13th behind Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly - an especially painful outcome for the team as it was Albon who replaced Russell at Williams at the start of the season.

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