Wolff: No preferential treatment at Mercedes despite Hamilton’s skepticism


Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff acknowledges Lewis Hamilton's right to be sceptical about potential preferential treatment between the team’s drivers but insists the Briton and George Russell are treated equally.

Hamilton’s pointed remarks last weekend in Monaco about Russell having exclusive use of a new front wing, coupled with his pessimistic outlook on ever outqualifying his teammate again this season, fueled speculation of tensions seeping in at the Brackley squad.

It later transpired that the seven-time world champion had declined the opportunity to use the new wing, not wanting to risk a pitlane start if it was damaged during qualifying.

Despite this, Hamilton's comments about Russell having an advantage suggested he was concerned about an uneven playing field at the Silver Arrows team.

But Wolff was quick to refute such an idea, stating that Mercedes has consistently aimed for fairness between its drivers.

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The Austrian noted that the only time the team intervened in a teammate battle was at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when Hamilton attempted to back Nico Rosberg into the pack during their title showdown and was repeatedly urged by the Mercedes pitwall to increase his pace.

When asked if Hamilton's remarks about Russell indicated paranoia about unequal treatment, possibly due to his contract situation, Wolff responded: "Aren't all drivers a bit skeptical at times?

“I think as a team we have demonstrated even in the most tense competitions between team-mates that we are trying to always balance it right, and be transparent and fair,” he added, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“I think there was not a moment, apart from the 2016 Abu Dhabi GP, where we tried to manage a race, and we haven't done since then.

“I can understand that as a driver you want the best out of yourself and the team, and sometimes when it's going against you, you can question.

“But as a team we are 100% on a mission of giving the two drivers two great cars, the best possible cars and best possible strategies and support.”

In last Sunday’s race, a lack of communication between the Mercedes pitwall and Hamilton cost the latter any chance of pulling off an undercut on Max Verstappen.

Wolff said the miscue reflected the inevitable tensions that build up when everyone is pushed to the limit.

“We're trying to do the best out of the relationship, and trying to maximise the results for what is the final season,” he said.

“And like always between drivers, it can be tense at times because everybody wants to do the best.”

As for Russell’s seven-to-one outperformance in qualifying relative to Hamilton, Wolff sees the latter as nothing more than an incomplete statistic.

“I don't think there is a specific explanation for the statistic, but it's still a statistic,” he said. “We are seven races in and there are another 17 to go. I've not seen this as a trend.”

Hamilton himself says he isn’t getting “hung up” on his one-lap deficit to Russell on Saturdays.

“I wouldn’t say it’s not been a priority but the whole weekend’s been the priority is to improve everywhere,” he said last weekend.


“But it’s, particularly since the end of last year and then all this year has been pretty bad on a Saturday. So, but it is what it is and I’m going to continue to work atit.

“So far I haven’t got it to a great place. But there’s plenty of races left to sort that out. And there’s plenty of time to iron out the creases in my performance and in the cars.

“So I’m not getting too hung up on it. My race performance is still pretty decent. So fortunately I can fall back on that for now.”

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