Hill: Mercedes must back Russell ‘a bit harder’, instill confidence

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Damon Hill believes Mercedes should better support George Russell to instill more confidence in its charger to curb his current tendency to overstep.

In last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, Russell secured Mercedes’ first podium finish of the season.

But it was somewhat of a bittersweet result for the Briton who reckoned that a runner-spot, or even an outright win, might have been possible given the strong pace of the team’s car in dry conditions.

However, a few mistakes by Russell in the tricky conditions weighed on his efforts.

The Briton reckoned that his failed attack on McLaren’s Oscar Piastri ten laps from the flag had proven particularly costly, although he was still able to reel in the Aussie and his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race to claim the final spot on the podium.

Russell’s failed move triggered a rare reaction from Mercedes boss Tito Wolff who took to the team’s radio waves to encourage his driver to keep a cool head.

“Focus George, focus”, said Wolff, a communication perceived by many as a message of support, but Hill questioned the intervention’s timing and effectiveness.

“I think it can be slightly undermining if you’re getting coached by your team boss over the team radio over the race, being told to focus,” commented Hill on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

In light of Russell’s somewhat messy race, Hill suggested that the 26-year-old, who is set to lead Mercedes in 2025, is perhaps trying too hard and forcing the issue at times.

“I do think this is a problem for George,” explained the 1996 F1 world champion. “He’s been there at Mercedes now… they’ve not had a great run but he’s definitely doing the job for them.

“Lewis is off to Ferrari next year. He’s trying to establish himself as the lead driver and he’s yet to achieve that, I think because they’re talking all the time about who his teammate is going to be for next year rather than talking up George.

I think Mercedes ought to back him a bit harder, give him a bit more confidence and then he doesn’t perhaps have to try so hard to prove himself in the race because it seems to me he’s trying to compensate a little bit for stuff.

“I think he needs to cool it. He’s got the speed, he’s got the ability, he’s very intelligent. I am sure he can deliver for them if they give him a bit more comfort there.”

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